Seattle activists challenge Maria Cantwell’s sponsorship of S. 720, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act.
By Alice Rothchild / Mondoweiss
September 10, 2017
According to the ACLU: The bill states that violators shall be fined in accordance with the penalties laid out in Section 206 of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. That section provides that violations are punishable by a civil penalty that could reach $250,000 and that willful violations are subject to criminal prosecution, which could result in a fine of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison.
Senate Bill 720, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, (and its twin in the House of Representatives, Bill 1697), are currently wending their ways through the national legislative process with all the usual front and backroom big money pressure from AIPAC, StandWithUs, and Co., as well as pushback from the less financially endowed citizenry. S. 720 is part of a host of national and state level legislation that seeks to suppress criticism of Israeli policy, to destroy BDS, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement (as anti-Semitic hate speech dangerous to Israel), and to erase Palestinian history and narrative. Washington Senator Maria Cantwell who claims to support freedom of speech and human rights, is a cosponsor of S. 720 and we have a problem with that.
Six constituents (including myself) met with [Sen. Cantwell’s] outreach staffer in Seattle on September 7. We are activist Jews, a Unitarian, an Episcopalian, and an Anglican; we are a building contractor, doctor, Palestinian educator, psychologist, and folks active on community and social justice issues. Most of us have had personal experiences bearing witness and working in Israel/Palestine. Dayna was welcoming, interested, but clearly not well versed in the topic, as that is the turf of the DC office. So we started with the basics. Continue reading
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.
* 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.”