Tell Congress: Oppose the Israel Anti-Boycott Act
Last week in St. Louis, the 223rd General Assembly passed an overture calling on the Presbyterian Church (USA) to "defend and advocate for the constitutional protection under the First Amendment for all United States citizens, religious and civic organizations, companies and corporations that exercise their freedoms of speech, association, and other civil rights to support measures of economic witness designed to bring those freedoms and rights to Palestinians and other persons living without full citizenship and under occupation... and to oppose specific U.S. legislation to suppress measures of economic witness (boycott, divestment, sanctions, or BDS policies and strategies) such as “The Israel Anti-Boycott Act,” Senate Bill (S) 720 and House Resolution (H.R.) 1697, which seek to impose civil and criminal penalties for nonviolent BDS resistance against human rights violations in Israel and Palestine."
Later this week the House Foreign Affairs Committee will mark up this legislation. Please contact your members of congress and ask them to oppose the Israel Anti Boycott Act!
Last November leaders representing 17 Christian organizations sent a letter to all members of Congress calling on them to oppose the Israel Anti-Boycott Act which was introduced in both the House and the Senate in March. The bills (H.R. 1697 and S.720) are part of a larger effort to outlaw or penalize the use of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions aimed at unjust Israeli policies.
“As U.S. Christian churches and organizations committed to justice and peace in the Middle East,” the leaders wrote, “we are deeply concerned by the introduction of the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” in the Senate (S.720) and in the House (H.R.1697). This legislation, if adopted, would put legal obstacles in the way of nonviolent peaceful action meant to bring about social change, and would legislate against the freedom to make choices in the stewardship of our financial resources. The bills also conflate Israel and the settlements, erasing the important distinction between Israel and its illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
The leaders explained in the letter that their opposition to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act “is an effort to change unjust Israeli policy toward Palestinians, not to delegitimize the State of Israel, nor to marginalize or isolate our Jewish neighbors, or their enterprises. Our choices to purchase and invest responsibly, and to advocate with corporations or governments, are motivated by our firm commitments to justice and peace for all people, without discrimination or exclusion.”
Urging opposition to the bill, the letter states, “As churches and church-related organizations, we reject any efforts by the state to curtail these rights. We urge you to oppose the proposed legislation, and thus support the rights of individuals and institutions to spend and invest in accordance with their faith, values, and policies.”
In addition to legislation before Congress, over 20 states have adopted laws or executive orders aimed at boycotts of Israel and/or Israeli settlements located in occupied Palestinian territory.
Contact your Senators and Representative to let them know you support the message of the letter from Christian leaders opposing the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. Members of Congress urgently need to hear from constituents who are concerned about this dangerous legislation.
More action: Consider bringing this important issue to your congregation and asking members to contact their elected officials. Include this action alert in your next church bulletin or newsletter.
For more information:
The New Israel Anti Boycott Act is Still Unconstitutional - March 7, 2018
How the Israel Anti-Boycott Act Threatens First Amendment Rights, ACLU, July 26, 2017
Constitutionality Issues & BDS Legislation: Expert Views, FMEP, October 24, 2017
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act Is an Act of Political Persecution, By Lara Friedman, August 17, 2017