BDS

Maria Cantwell, Please Reconsider Your Support of Anti-BDS Legislation

The following is an open letter from The Right Reverend Cabell Tennis, retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware, in response to Maria Cantwell’s sponsorship of Senate bills S.170 and S.720.*

The Rt. Reverend Cabell Tennis

May 22, 2017

Senator Maria Cantwell
915 Second Ave
Seattle, WA 98174

Dear Senator Cantwell,

This letter comes from a Seattle resident who greatly respects and appreciates your work as a United States senator for Washington. I am a retired Episcopal Bishop, a lifelong Democrat and progressive.

I especially salute you and your colleagues in the Washington State delegation for your steadfast alertness to the sometimes threatening proposals from the Trump administration and the Republican majority.

There is, however, one matter that seems to me to be outside of progressive and fair-minded legislation. I am referring to the present move to constrain the use of boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS). From my perspective, and I would urge you to join me, BDS is a nonviolent, peaceful means for people to support the oppressed and take a stand against violations of international law when they are occurring and our government does not act.

In this case, I am referring to the Palestinian people who have been under military occupation for more than 60 years while we have consistently supported the State of Israel by financial contributions and vetoes in the United Nations. The pattern is clearly that of apartheid as it was practiced by South Africa during the long night of oppression there.

I urge and encourage you to not support legislation that seeks to limit or suppress BDS. It is a fundamental right of the people of this country to petition their government through peaceful and nonviolent means including acts of protest.

Sincerely,

Cabell Tennis

 

* Senate bill S.170, the “Combating BDS Act of 2017,” prohibits “measures by State and local governments to divest from entities that engage in commerce-related or investment-related boycott, divestment, or sanctions activities targeting Israel.”
Senate bill S.720, the “Anti-Israel Boycott Act,” prohibits “boycotts fostered by international governmental organizations against Israel.” 

Please Oppose the Israel Anti-Boycott Act

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(image: wiredforlego / Flikr)

New bill in Congress aims to thwart international measures to hold Israel accountable for settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.

By Josh Ruebner / The Electronic Intifada
May 18, 2017

[Ed. Note: U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D. WA) is a co-sponsor of a related bill, S.170, Combating BDS Act of 2017.]


“Settlement businesses unavoidably contribute to Israeli policies that dispossess and harshly discriminate against Palestinians, while profiting from Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and other resources.”
— Arvind Ganesan, Human Rights Watch Director of Business and Human Rights


US Senator Ben Cardin is once again trying to pass legislation designed to suppress the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

During the last Congressional session, the Maryland Democrat succeeded in sneaking language into a must-pass trade bill making it a “principal negotiating objective” of the United States “to discourage politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel” while negotiating trade deals.

This discouragement of BDS extended to boycotts of products originating from settlements in what the bill euphemistically referred to as “Israeli-controlled territories.” All of Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights are illegal under international law.

With BDS continuing to gain momentum, Cardin went back to the drawing board and introduced the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720, H.R.1697) on 23 March, designed to coincide with the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The powerful Israel lobby group duly made the bill one of its top legislative priorities.

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Washington State Anti-BDS Legislation

 We’ve won this round: a letter from Cindy Corrie.

March 28, 2017

Dear friends and allies at the Bishop’s Committee,

Your calls and emails to the governor and state legislators of Washington are working. None of the anti-BDS measures threatened during the 2017 session are moving forward. The deadline for introducing bills has passed for this session. House Joint Memorials 4004 and 4009, both condemning BDS, died in committee. Senator Baumgartner (R-Spokane) never formally introduced the anti-BDS bill that he announced in December. Governor Inslee has not signed the Governors Against BDS statement that more than forty other state governors have signed. We’re grateful for all your individual activism and also to the long list of WA groups and organizations that joined our campaign against these measures.

We may have won this round in Washington State, but we have every reason to believe that anti-BDS measures will be introduced again in 2018, with all the same state legislators in office. Anti-BDS measures like these have passed in at least fourteen other states, and an anti-BDS bill has been introduced in the United States Senate.

We have to continue our campaign to make sure that our state legislators know that they should not endorse or vote for any measures that curtail our free speech by prohibiting or penalizing boycotts.

  • IN PERSON MEETINGS are among the most effective ways to influence our legislators. Anti-BDS advocates are lobbying in person, and we can’t leave the field to them. This is especially important if your WA legislator was among the 36 sponsors of HJM 4004 and 4009. Click here to find out if your legislator was a sponsor.

Are you able to meet with your WA legislators, either in Olympia over the next month, or in your home city over following months? Would you like to connect with others in your district who might be able to join you in a meeting?

Let us help. Contact us at FreeSpeechWA@gmail.com for help in setting up a meeting and gathering information for the 2018 legislative session.

  • OTHER ALLIES: Do you know other organizations that will share our concern for these threats to free speech and our right to boycott? Let us know at FreeSpeechWA.org and we’ll reach out to them to join our campaign.

Thank you for taking action in defense of our civil liberties and the BDS Movement for justice and equal rights.

— Cindy Corrie

Free Speech Washington
FreeSpeechWA.org
FreeSpeechWA@gmail.com

I Support Boycotting Settlements — Should I Be Banned From Visiting Israel With My Children?

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Participants in the Open Hillel Conference, Harvard University. (photo: Gili Getz)

On Monday, the Knesset passed a law denying entry to any person “who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel” or any territory “under Israeli control,” which includes settlements in the West Bank. I’m one of those people.

By Peter Beinart / The Forward
March 8, 2017


Now, it seems, the Knesset wants me to choose. Either stop visiting Israel or stop opposing the occupation. In a variety of ways, that’s the deal Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been offering American Jews for close to a decade now. Embrace Israel at the cost of your principles or embrace your principles at the cost of Israel.


I have a theory about American Jewish kids and Israel. I’m trying it out on my own children.

My theory boils down to “Love first, truth later.” When my kids near adulthood, I’ll encourage them to visit the West Bank. I’ll encourage them to see for themselves what it means to hold millions of people as noncitizens, under military law, without free movement or due process. I’ll encourage them to read real histories of Israel’s war of independence, histories that explode the myth that most Palestinian refugees left their homes willingly. I’ll encourage them to consume as much Palestinian poetry, literature, journalism and film as possible. I want them to see how Israel looks from the other side.

But not too early. My fear is that if they encounter harsh truths at too young an age, it will drive them away. They’ll grow to hate Israel, or wash their hands of it. I’ve seen that happen a lot.

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Chair of U.K. Palestine Solidarity Campaign Refused entry to Israel

Hugh Lanning

(photo: The Jewish Chronicle)

Hugh Lanning was refused entry just a week after the Knesset passed a law banning foreign nationals who call for boycotts.

By Rosa Doherty / The Jewish Chronicle
March 13, 2017


“We call upon the British Government to make clear to Israel that it is not acceptable for it to ban entry to British citizens whose only crime is to advocate for human rights of the Palestinian people and to protest against policies that violate those rights.”
— Ben Jamal, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign


The chairman of the [U.K.] Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has been prevented from entering Israel.

Hugh Lanning was refused entry on Sunday, just a week after the Knesset passed a law banning foreign nationals who call for boycotts.

Lanning would likely have been barred prior to the introduction of the law due to a longstanding policy to refuse entry to boycott activists; however, border police told him he had been blocked due to the new legislation.

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister, also made explicit the link between the new law and the treatment of Lanning, saying on Sunday evening: “Those acting against Israel need to understand that reality is changing. No sane country would permit entry to the main activists calling for its boycott and who work leave it isolated.”

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Israel’s New Travel Ban Tells the World to Stay Away

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The new anti-BDS law marks a drastic shift in Israel’s relationship with the outside world by sending the message that many of those who deeply object to the occupation are no longer welcome to visit.

By Allison Kaplan Sommer / Haaretz
March 7, 2017


With this new law, the message to young Jews, and the rest of the world is no longer: “Come, see for yourself, let’s have a discussion — even an argument — in which I try to change your views. We know it’s complicated, but let’s not end our relationship.”

Instead, [the message] is: “Stay away. If you don’t agree with us, there is no place for you here.”


At first glance, Israel’s sweeping travel ban passed by the Knesset on Monday night essentially changes nothing. The authorities at Israel’s borders and airports already have complete discretion to keep anyone out, and numerous prospective visitors have been blacklisted and turned away because they are believed to be hostile to Israel.

They don’t need this law, which spells out support of boycotting of any Israeli institution or any area under its control as grounds to block their entrance as visitor.

But, actually, it changes everything. The statement it makes and the message it sends — that those who so deeply object to the occupation that they choose not to buy settlement products — are no longer welcome to visit, see and experience their country is a drastic shift in Israel’s relationship with the outside world.

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Encountering Peace: Encountering Peace?

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Demonstrators hold Palestinian flags during a rally in Nabi Saleh. (photo: Reuters)

Most of the world, including the Arab world does not really care about the Palestinian people and their cause.

By Gershon Baskin / The Jerusalem Post
December 7, 2016


And while everyone is busy talking about BDS, Israel is continuing to build settlements and confiscating more land from the Palestinians. But to what cause? That is what troubles me. There will be no imposed solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. No one can force the Israelis and the Palestinians to act against their own interests, nor will any world power apply effective pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to do what they are not prepared to do.


I don’t know what Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu thinks, what his plans are, his grand strategy for the future of Israel. I know that he is an intelligent man. I know that he does think strategically. I know that he sees himself and his position in historical terms. I believes that he believes that he is the savior of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. He has told us that he is here to prevent the next Holocaust and that he will never compromise on Israel’s security.

But what’s beyond that? What does he really want to do with Judea and Samaria? Does he really imagine that the creeping annexation, now being advanced by a new law that gives the right to the government to confiscate private Palestinian land and turn it over to Israelis, will continue to go by unnoticed and be unchallenged?

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Half of Americans Support Sanctions on Israel

SEPARATION WALL

Palestinian women walk along Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank village of Abu Dis. (photo: Anna Kaplan / Flash900)

The Clinton campaign diverged from the party’s base on Israel-Palestine.

By Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man / +972 Magazine
December 3, 2016


Perhaps demonstrating how out of touch decision makers are with the electorate on the matter of Palestine and Palestinian rights, momentum in American government — local and national — seems to be toward limiting the tools Americans have to leverage their own economic and political power to end the occupation. At least 22 U.S. states have legislation that punishes companies for answering the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.


The number of Americans who support imposing sanctions on Israel over its defiant settlement policies has shot up to 46 percent, the same percentage of Americans who voted for Donald Trump in the presidential election.

That number has shot up nearly 10 percentage points over the past year, according to a national poll published by the Brookings Institute on Friday, on the sidelines of this week’s Saban Forum, “an annual dialogue between American and Israeli leaders.”

Among Democrats, a 60-percent majority “supported imposing some economic sanctions or taking more serious action” in response to Israeli settlements, the poll found. A much smaller number of Republican respondents (31 percent) support sanctions.

The United States, like most countries in the world, opposes the existence and expansion of Israeli settlements — both in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Golan Heights. Despite that opposition, however, Washington has rarely set any consequences for Israel’s settlement policies or actions.

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Bank of Ireland Closes BDS Accounts

Talal Huesseini, Palestinian Square
October 11, 2016


“It is difficult to escape the conclusion that this attack on our ability to bank is a politically-motivated measure to silence a human rights organization that campaigns for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it fulfills its obligations under international law — a campaign the Irish Government views as entirely legitimate.”


On 27 September 2016, the Bank of Ireland (BOI) closed three accounts belonging to the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), deeming Palestine to be a ‘high-risk country’ and declaring that IPSC no longer met the bank’s “risk appetite.” IPSC, a human rights advocacy group that seeks to “build solidarity and mutual understanding” between the Irish and Palestinian peoples, held accounts with the Bank of Ireland since the organization’s establishment in 2001. The money that IPSC raises is primarily used to fund Palestinian solidarity projects in Ireland, such as: advocating for recognition of the occupation by the Irish government and European Union; and educating Irish citizens on the boycott of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements. This kind of action epitomizes IPSC’s objective: to peacefully promote Palestinian rights and culture. [Continue reading here . . . ]

California AB2844

We received this letter from our friends at JVP Los Angeles.


September 26, 2016

Friends,

As you have likely heard, over the weekend Gov. Jerry Brown signed California anti-BDS bill AB 2844 into law. As our coalition looks at next steps, it would be good to know if any church groups here in California have chosen to boycott or divest believe they will/might be affected by this legislation which bars persons (but legally includes entities) from applying or renewing contracts for over $100,000 if they have a “policy” “against any sovereign nation or peoples recognized by the government of the United States, including, but not limited to, the nation and people of Israel.”

Thank you to all who engaged in the long and collaborative effort to block this bill from becoming law. My personal frustration with our governor’s decision does not overwhelm my gratitude to all of you and those in our broad coalition for the hours, days, weeks and months we joined together to fight this good fight.

I believe legislators should pay attention to the growing number of constituents who actively work to raise Palestinian rights as we do the rights of all oppressed people and minority groups. All who voted to support this misguided and dishonest legislation will find themselves on the wrong side of history.

Let’s stay focused and steadfast as Palestinians are. The arc of the moral universe is long.

— Estee Chandler
JVP-LA Organizer

“Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” — Cesar Chavez