Americans shouldn’t forfeit their freedom of speech so states can support Israel

A woman holds a 'Boycott Israel' flag during the annual pro-
A woman holds a ‘Boycott Israel’ flag during an Al-Quds Day demonstration in central London in June 2018. (photo: David Cliff / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)
Laws stifling the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement to protest Israeli policy toward the Palestinians are bad for Americans, Jews and our foreign policy.

By Jeremy Ben-Ami and Rabbi Jill Jacobs | NBC News  | Jan 15, 2020

We believe…that previous Supreme Court rulings about consumer boycotts firmly establish that the BDS movement’s activities are entitled to First Amendment protection.

In recent years, several states have enacted legislation to use the power of government to stifle boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements. These laws not only violate the First Amendment; they also open the door to much broader government control of public discourse, something that all Americans and especially American Jews should fear.

At a time when our democratic institutions are under attack, it has never been more important to hold the line on our constitutional freedoms, rather than throw them away to advance a misguided cause.

As leaders of two major American Jewish and pro-Israel advocacy groups, we might not be expected to spearhead a fight against laws that seek to discourage participation in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against the state of Israel. Although some under the broad BDS umbrella have trafficked in anti-Semitic ideas and rhetoric, heavy-handed attempts by states to restrict or prohibit people from participating in the movement both violate the First Amendment and do absolutely nothing to protect Israel or Jews.

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