- The American Conservative - http://www.theamericanconservative.com -

The Disgraceful ‘Anti-Boycott Act’

Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim report [1] on a horrible piece of legislation:

But now, a group of 43 Senators – 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats – want to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. The two primary sponsors of the bill are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: anyone guilty of violating its prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000, and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

Whatever one thinks about the BDS movement and related international efforts to pressure Israel to change its occupation policies, it is deranged to try to criminalize protected political speech and association. As the ACLU points out [2], that is what this bill does. This legislation is plainly unconstitutional, and I assume it would be struck down in court if it were ever signed into law, but the deeper problem is that so many elected representatives think it is appropriate and desirable to trample on the constitutional rights of Americans to defend another government’s illegal occupation. It is a measure of how lopsided and unthinking “pro-Israel” hawks are in their support for bad Israeli policies that they would try to infringe on Americans’ rights and threaten citizens of their own country with prosecution for engaging in peaceful political action. It is also a sign of how frightened these same hawks are that they feel the need to resort to such heavy-handed tactics.

change_me
32 Comments (Open | Close)

32 Comments To "The Disgraceful ‘Anti-Boycott Act’"

#1 Comment By Tennessee Waltz On July 19, 2017 @ 2:28 pm

I agree. Any US politician who tries to tell Americans that they can’t say whatever the hell they want about a foreign country ought to be kicked out of office. Either that or have the FBI sicced on them to see if they’re taking money or orders from the foreign country.

I’m sick of foreign meddling in US politics, and Israel is right up there with the worst of the worst.

#2 Comment By Kurt Gayle On July 19, 2017 @ 2:36 pm

The bill is a total disgrace. Anti-American.

#3 Comment By Rossbach On July 19, 2017 @ 2:47 pm

The fact that congress would even consider a measure like this is strong evidence of the strength of the Israel lobby on Capitol Hill. You can buy a lot of congressmen with the kind of money that this lobby spends.

#4 Comment By Robert Gruber On July 19, 2017 @ 3:21 pm

Right. It sounds like it would be struck down in the courts. A much more rational course would be to follow Indiana’s anti-bds bill which calls to divest public investment funds from any business that supports the bds movement.

#5 Comment By Hyperion On July 19, 2017 @ 3:49 pm

DL wrote: It is also a sign of how frightened these same hawks are that they feel the need to resort to such heavy-handed tactics.

It is also a sign of how stupid these same hawks are that they think this might work.

Cardin?

#6 Comment By Neil Novi On July 19, 2017 @ 4:08 pm

It’s just congressional virtue-signalling with the “donor” base, i.e., AIPAC-type pro-Zionists. Not a snowball’s chance in hell of passing constitutionality scrutiny.

#7 Comment By rayray On July 19, 2017 @ 4:15 pm

@Kurt Gayle
“A much more rational course would be to follow Indiana’s anti-bds bill which calls to divest public investment funds from any business that supports the bds movement.”

Question: why is this rational? If people would like to organize boycotts to express their political views or concerns it seems to be to be entirely their business. Certainly not the Federal or State government.

Shame on Indiana for getting in the midst of it for what is clearly the lowest of political motives.

#8 Comment By Allen On July 19, 2017 @ 4:16 pm

I think the BDS movement is based on stupidity and lies-they’re not supporting Palestinians; they’re supporting Hamas, which makes them anti-Semitic racists. But we still have free speech and free assembly, even if I disagree. Only a moron with no understanding of the Constitution would try to ban those things. Or a politician. But I repeat myself. (apologies to Mark Twain)

#9 Comment By Chris in Appalachia On July 19, 2017 @ 4:26 pm

Thanks for bringing this infuriating bill to our attention. I see that both of my senators (Manchin and Capito) are cosponsors. This in turn caused me to reach out today to who I think will run against Manchin next year and offer to support him during the 2018 elections to unseat Manchin and his AIPAC funding.

#10 Comment By Chris in Appalachia On July 19, 2017 @ 4:30 pm

“…which makes them anti-Semitic racists.” This slur has been thrown around so recklessly that it probably means less and less every day. The American people need to stop trembling with fear every time the Neocons and Zionists label someone with this name. Call me a bigoted anti-Semitic rube – I really don’t care. And I wish some other people would stop caring, too.

#11 Comment By Crowded House On July 19, 2017 @ 4:32 pm

Say, fellows, I’ve got a whacking good idea! How about doing the business of the American people instead of doing favors for foreign countries?

Imagine the delighted surprise of your constituents if you were to actually do something like fully fund the Wall instead of giving Israel a check for $38 billion and then saying you don’t have enough cash left for America, or pass legislation ending the H1B and H2B jobs-for-foreigners program instead of letting Trump increase the caps on those programs, or balance the budget instead of blowing more money on defense than the combined eight next biggest defense budgets in the world!

#12 Comment By Kurt Gayle On July 19, 2017 @ 4:37 pm

rayray said (4:15 p.m.):

“@Kurt Gayle
‘A much more rational course would be to follow Indiana’s anti-bds bill which calls to divest public investment funds from any business that supports the bds movement.’ Question: why is this rational?”

Whoa, rayray! Full stop! You’re mistakenly attributing the Robert Gruber quote (3:21 p.m.) to me. I, Kurt Gayle, am completely supportive of the BDS movement. I don’t support any anti-BDS bills anywhere!

#13 Comment By Jones On July 19, 2017 @ 5:16 pm

Wow. Introducing blatantly unconstitutional legislation. Well over a third of the Senate. This country increasingly feels like it’s on thin ice.

#14 Comment By Colonel Bogey On July 19, 2017 @ 5:21 pm

“They’re supporting Hamas, which makes them anti-Semitic racists.”

Last time I checked, the membership of Hamas was about 100% Semitic. So, Hamas supporters are pro-Semitic. “Racism” (properly, racialism) is irrelevant, since Semites are a linguistic group, not a race.

#15 Comment By rayray On July 19, 2017 @ 5:24 pm

@Kurt Gayle
Sorry Kurt…many apologies. I was actually in the process of agreeing with you when I got distracted by other post because…because I get distracted. Cheers.

#16 Comment By a spencer On July 19, 2017 @ 5:32 pm

It is baffling to me why anyone would think something like this would help their cause.

Most Americans have never heard of BDS. If they do now, do this bill’s authors think that cartoonishly villainous punitive measures are going to make most Americans support abridging their Constitutional rights?

Seems like there are frequent articles in Jewish publications lamenting young Americans in general and Jewish Americans in particular are growing less supportive of the SOI. When stunts like this are pulled, do they really wonder why?

#17 Comment By The Mills of The Gods On July 19, 2017 @ 5:34 pm

This bill was written by AIPAC. You know, AIPAC, the Israel lobbying organization whose leaders were charged with espionage against the United States not too long ago. Most people who know anything about the “America Israel Political Action Committee” knows it’s about as “American” as Jonathan Pollard or his buddy Binyamin Netanyahu, which raises the obvious question as to whether 1) Trump will now finally make AIPAC register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, and 2) Bob Mueller will do the right thing and include it in his “foreign meddling and collusion” investigations.

#18 Comment By John Gruskos On July 19, 2017 @ 5:36 pm

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

#19 Comment By flabbergasted On July 19, 2017 @ 5:36 pm

This is absolutely incredible. What is happening to AMERICA?

#20 Comment By dee On July 19, 2017 @ 5:42 pm

This is stunning. Thought we’d about seen it all by now.. wrong.

#21 Comment By Whine Merchant On July 19, 2017 @ 6:58 pm

This is the same group who give US tax $ to Israel under a number of guises, to have a portion of the $ later returned to them in the form of campaign donations from AIPAC and its shills.

If this was done by any other group, it would be called racketeering.

#22 Comment By Patrick D On July 19, 2017 @ 7:37 pm

flabbergasted,

“This is absolutely incredible. What is happening to AMERICA?”

“Israelification.” It is a process that has been taking place for most of my life.

It became obvious to me as a Middle Eastern Studies student with the intention of serving my country, the United States, about 35 years ago. When it became clear I would actually be serving Israel and, to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia at the expense of the United States, I abandoned the idea.

It has progressed to a point where it is now visible to average Americans who are simply paying attention and have not drunk the Zionist Kool-Aid.

#23 Comment By Dave On July 19, 2017 @ 9:20 pm

Yea the very idea of the bill is clearly unconstitutional and would be thrown out without hesitation pretty quickly on challenge. As someone else said this is a clear case of political virtue signaling on legislation that would never pass, and even if it did would never survive judicial review.

“Right. It sounds like it would be struck down in the courts. A much more rational course would be to follow Indiana’s anti-bds bill which calls to divest public investment funds from any business that supports the bds movement.”
This may also be unconstitutional if the state is barring businesses with otherwise legitimate claims to their commerce on the basis of speech.

#24 Comment By Cash On July 19, 2017 @ 10:28 pm

AIPAC is usually smarter than this. For decades, they positioned support for Israel as being in America’s interest. No daylight between what was good for Israel and what was good for America.

Now, supporting Israel requires limiting the First Amendment rights of American citizens.

All this bill will do is make anti-Semitism fit for polite company.

Polite company that thinks it’s being patriotic.

By the time the courts knock it down, the damage will have been done.

#25 Comment By March Hare On July 20, 2017 @ 10:34 am

Wow.

I stand second to none in contempt for my senior senator, Mr Schumer. But even I didn’t really think he was so far into the AIPAC tank that he would support, nay sponsor, something as outrageous as this.

#26 Comment By JWJ On July 20, 2017 @ 10:54 am

Allen wrote:

“I think the BDS movement is based on stupidity and lies-they’re not supporting Palestinians; they’re supporting Hamas, … But we still have free speech and free assembly, even if I disagree. Only a moron with no understanding of the Constitution would try to ban those things….”

Big up-vote to Allen (if we had up-votes here at AC)

#27 Comment By sglover On July 20, 2017 @ 3:21 pm

Absolutely, perfectly in keeping with the record of Maryland’s own Ben Cardin. When he isn’t trying to stoke hostility toward Iran, old Ben mostly just occupies space.

Unfortunately, since Maryland is nearly a one-party state, and that party is a Democratic Party sclerotic even by Dem standards, he probably figures that he can get away with it. God knows Maryland will keep sending Steny Hoyer back as long as he has a pulse….

#28 Comment By Aviel On July 21, 2017 @ 9:36 am

If BDS and their allies wants to stop corporations, groups or individuals from doing business with Israel why not? If the Israeli gov’t and/or their allies choose to fight against BDS why not?
It seems to me that if elected US politicians believed that more voters want to keep the option to legally help BDS succeed in their goals than those who are against BDS or don’t care
than they won’t support this legislation.
The info in the quote below may be dated and numbers may have changed.
“THUS FAR, NOT a single member of Congress has joined the ACLU in denouncing this bill. The Intercept this morning sent inquiries to numerous non-committed members of the Senate and House who have yet to speak on this bill.”

#29 Comment By Kurt On July 21, 2017 @ 3:35 pm

A troubling bill but I am not so sure it would be struck down by the Courts, given that they have let stand the law that says it is illegal for labor unions to support a secondary boycott.

#30 Comment By kurt gayle On July 21, 2017 @ 9:10 pm

To Kurt who wrote (3:35 p.m.): “A troubling bill but I am not so sure it would be struck down by the Courts, given that they have let stand the law that says it is illegal for labor unions to support a secondary boycott.”

The court decisions to which you refer, Kurt, are not directly related as they dealt with unions and employers under Section 8 of the National Labor Relations Act. Thus, these court decisions are not directly relevant to the current case.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote in its July 17th letter to members of the US House of Representatives (“Oppose H.R. 1687 – Israel Anti-Boycott Act”) that “whatever their merits, such boycotts rightly enjoy First Amendment protection.” In reaching this conclusion, the ACLU cited the US Supreme Court decision “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 458 U.S. 886 (1982)”:

“NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. is a case in which the United States Supreme Court ruled 8-0 (Justice Marshall did not participate in the decision) that although states have broad power to regulate economic activities, they cannot prohibit peaceful advocacy of a politically-motivated boycott…In a decision by Justice Stevens, the Supreme Court reversed the Supreme Court of Mississippi’s decision, holding that the nonviolent elements of the petitioners’ activities were protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and holding that the petitioners were not liable in damages for the consequences of their nonviolent, protected activity.”

[3].

#31 Comment By Milwaukee’s Finest On July 22, 2017 @ 11:58 pm

Very depressing. Israel is now a threat to basic American freedoms. It may well prove an even greater threat to our freedoms than Al Qaeda or ISIS, because Al Qaeda and ISIS never had forty US senators helping them accomplish their goals.

Can our birthright liberties survive a concerted assault by both Israel and anti-Israel terrorists? We’ll see … But the lesson is clear – we made a terrible mistake by allowing ourselves to be pulled into the Middle East. We need to leave.

#32 Comment By Russell Vincent On September 6, 2017 @ 9:01 am

Although I would not support this bill, on the other hand I find it revealing that you mention the “illegal occupation” by Israel. What makes it illegal? If it is then probably most countries in the world are acting illegally due to their past policies. If Israel has right to exist, and if any country does, Israel does, then it does what it must do to achieve that end, as does all other countries.