Action Alert:

Tensions Rise at Implementing the Anti-BDS Legislation Bill at the Massachusetts State House

On July 18, 2017, at the Massachusetts State House a hearing concerning the Anti-BDS legislation bill H1685 and S1689, showed people’s concerns and animosity over the bill . The purpose of the Anti-BDS legislation bill is to penalize any individual who engages in boycotts against Israeli companies. Many of American citizens views the Israeli companies as a problem; since most of the Israeli businesses supports the illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands and policies that eliminate equal rights for Palestinians’. During the hearing, Israelis and Jewish Americans, who supported this bill, strongly declared the bill promotes discrimination against the Jewish settlers. A law professor and members of the non-profit organizations who were against the bill proclaimed the bill violates our personal freedom. Within the legislative hearing, it was revealed a confrontation between the opponents and the supporters, which exposed their perception of the meaning of the Anti-BDS bill.

Some of the Massachusetts residents who support the Anti-BDS bill presented examples that this is to decrease racial tensions against the Jews and Israeli populations. An Israeli-American, Joseph Moriman, stated this bill protects the Israeli population in the United States. Moriman proclaimed , “…the bill gives Israeli business people the ability to conduct business practices without being attacked from bigots because of their national origin”. Another Jewish-American supporter of the bill stated, “How come the protesters are not boycotting Turkish businesses? In Turkey, they are committing hate crimes against the Kurds. This boycott is great representation of anti-semitism.” An Israeli high school student, Adine Myer, addressed many Jews and Israelis created a productive water system and innovative medical system for the United States and manifested how the country is unappreciated towards their achievements.

Throughout the legislative hearing, opponents gave their opinions how the Anti-BDS bill is a violation of human rights. Harvard law professor, Mark V. Tushnet, declared the bill violates the First Amendment in the United States Constitution. Tushnet also stated the government does not have the authority to penalize people who participate in a boycott campaign. Laurie Hall, a member of Massachusetts Peace Action, addressed her belief that boycotts are stop to companies unethical and illegal practices.  Hall used Rosa Parks as an example that her sitting down in the only white area of the bus was to fight for racial equality and start a political movement. A member of Jewish Voice for Peace stated her viewpoints of the bill, which she announced companies do not dictate to American people  and the company’s own beliefs should not be more essential than the Constitution. The member of the of the Jewish Voice for Peace even demanded Massachusetts taxes that go to the companies that promote the Anti-BDS bill must be reformed.

During this legislative hearing, it demonstrated the hostility among the members of Massachusetts Peace Action and Jewish Voice for Peace, law professor, and Israeli and Jewish citizens about the concerns of the Anti-BDS legislation bill. The individuals stating their beliefs at the hearing expressed the government must be aware of the bill impact towards the social environment. For the most part, the hearing regarding the Anti-BDS legislation bill revealed what is consider freedom of speech.