Senator Gillibrand: Do Not Endorse Israel Anti-Boycott Act S. 720
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We, the undersigned New York State organizations and community members, hereby urge Senator Gillibrand to immediately rescind her sponsorship of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720).
The American Civil Liberties Union declared their opposition to the bill in a letter to the Senate on July 17th, claiming the bill would “punish individuals for no reason other than their political beliefs” and has urged senators not to co-sponsor this bill. This bill is particularly insidious as it seeks to criminalize support for the Palestinian call to boycott by subjecting supporters to a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.
In 2005, Palestinian civil society organizations called for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as forms of non-violent pressure on Israel. The BDS movement was launched by 170 Palestinian unions, political parties, refugee networks, women’s organizations, professional associations, popular resistance committees and others and is inspired by other successful nonviolent boycotts of the past including the movement to end South African Apartheid. The BDS call seeks to end the occupation of Palestinian lands, dismantle the Apartheid wall, achieve equality under the law for Israel’s Arab-Palestinian citizens and ensure the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their land as guaranteed by UN Resolution 194.
Regardless of the Senator’s personal feelings about the BDS movement, she must (and indeed did at a town hall meeting in New York City on July 22nd) acknowledge her constituents’ right to engage in economic boycotts as constitutionally protected forms of speech guaranteed under the First Amendment.
We urge Senator Gillibrand to side with her constituents and protect our rights to freedom of expression as we nonviolently struggle for a just peace in Israel and Palestine.
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