Boycotts are as American as the Boston Tea Party and the civil rights movement

Anti-BDS Bill Hearing, July 18, 2017
Anti-BDS Bill Hearing, July 18, 2017

Testimony presented at hearing on Anti-BDS Legislation, S.1689/H.1685, July 18, 2017

My name is Cole Harrison, the executive director of Massachusetts Peace Action. Massachusetts Peace Action is the state affiliate of Peace Action, the largest grassroots peace organization in the country. We are celebrating our 60th anniversary this year.

Massachusetts Peace Action works for nuclear disarmament, works to prevent and end U.S. wars and occupations, and works to cut the military budget and shift our nation’s excessive military spending to fund jobs, housing, education, health care, and a green economy.

Today, the Middle East is in flames.  The United States military is engaged in wars in seven Middle Eastern countries; one of those countries, Afghanistan, will mark its 40th year of war with outside intervention next year.  It keeps getting worse.  Every military action we engage in further convinces people in the Middle East that we are not a force for peace, that we are not a force for democracy, and that it is too often the quest for oil, power, markets, and money that drives our interventionist foreign policy.

So it is with Israel/Palestine also.  Israel’s nuclear weapons, its aggressive military posture towards its neighbors, its thirst for U.S. military aid, currently $3.7 billion a year, the most we give to any nation, and its occupation of Palestinian territory, which passed its 50th anniversary last month, and Israel’s policies of discrimination towards Palestinians, are all obstacles to peace.

We support peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians through a negotiated agreement in conformity with international law and the rights of both peoples.  We support the long-standing bipartisan United States policy that Israel’s settlements in the occupied territories are obstacles to peace.

Boycotts are as American as the Boston Tea Party and the civil rights movement.  We oppose this bill as we reject any effort to restrict or discourage open public discourse on issues surrounding Israel and Palestine.  We disavow conflation of criticism of a country’s policies with hatred of its people.