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The Disgraceful ‘Anti-Boycott Act’

It is deranged to try to criminalize protected political speech and association.

Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim report 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, 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.



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