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Congress Moving To Undermine Freedom of Speech When To Protect Israel, Israel Comes Before US Constitution

A bill that would criminalise boycotts against Israel has been signed by 45 US senators and 237 congressman.

The so-called “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” would impose fines of up to $250,000 (£192,000) on any US citizen “engaged in interstate or foreign commerce” who supports a boycott of Israeli goods and services.

The US has long defended Israel in territorial disputes in the Middle East, even as the Israeli military has expanded into areas assigned to the Palestinians by international law.

This position runs counter to that of the United Nations, which claims Israel’s settlements in occupied Palestinian territory have “no legal validity”, and “constitute flagrant violation of international law”.

In their new legislation, members of Congress claim the UN is considering a resolution to withhold assistance from – and prevent trade with – settlements in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.

The Israel Anti-Boycott act would punish any American who supported such measures.

However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has argued that the bill would “impose civil and criminal punishment on individuals solely because of their political beliefs  about Israel and its policies”, in a letter sent to members of the Senate.

“In short, the bill would punish businesses and individuals solely based on their point of view,” it wrote. “Such a penalty is in direct violation of the First Amendment.”

Israel: From independence to intifada

Still, the bill – reportedly drafted with the help of the  American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – has received widespread bipartisan support.

Conservatives like Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida also support it.Even liberal-leaning senators like Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Maria Cantwell of Washington, and representatives like Adam Schiff of Massachusetts, have signed on to the legislation.

When asked by The Intercept about this support, many legislators seemed unfamiliar with the details.

Democratic Senator Gary Peters of Michigan responded by asking: “What’s the Act?”

Senator Claire McCaskill claimed she had not read the ACLU letter, but would “take their position into consideration, just like I take everybody’s position into consideration”.

Meanwhile, Senator Benjamin Cardin – the bill’s primary sponsor – said that he “doesn’t think” the bill criminalises participating in boycotts, as the ACLU has claimed.

“We are very sensitive to freedom of speech; we are very sensitive to people having different views,” he said. “We’re not trying to weigh in at all on the differences between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

  • Aquifer

    ” He doesn’t think …” That’s the understatement of the year – so why did he introduce the bill? What does he “think” its purpose is?

  • DHFabian

    This is one of several critically important issues on which many on the left don’t agree with today’s liberal bourgeoisie. The Mideast is a tremendously complex issue, and understanding today’s deep conflicts requires some knowledge of the history and the people. Israel is the sole Jewish nation, surrounded by vast, oil rich Arab lands. Jews are indigenous to this bit of land (roughly the size of New Jersey, one of our smallest states). Many on the left do, indeed, support the right of the Jews to exist in the historic and modern Jewish nation of Israel.

  • Aquifer

    Sure – the right of Jews to exist – but the right to establish a “Jewish state” which gobbles up land from other “indigenous” folks, nah. If you want to check with history – just who was that land inhabited and cultivated by before “the Lord gave it to them” by acts of military conquest ….

    Does any country have a “right to exist” as a sectarian nation – making second class citizens of all who are not of that sect – would we have the “right to exist” as a “Christian nation”?

    I support the right of Jews, or Arabs or NAs or Africans, etc. etc., to exist wherever they happen to live ,,,

  • Aquifer
  • lcotler

    I’m a Jew. If being a Zionist means supporting the right for Jews (or any ethnic/religion group) to have a nation of their own, where Others are second-class citizens, then I’m a Jewish Anti-Zionist.

    Making it illegal to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel is a SHANDA, and unConstitutional!

    I was both on the Fourth of July with the given name of Israel. To me, today, the two biggest rogue nations in the world are the USA and Israel. It breaks my heart to say it, but I am ashamed of both!