Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Possible Congressional move on Israel Anti-Boycott Act alarms activists – Mondoweiss

Posted by M. C. on December 12, 2018

Because we know who really runs the show.

Pro-Palestine and free speech activists who have been mobilizing against the Israel Anti-Boycott Act are sounding an alarm about rumors of a secret attempt this week to slip the legislation, which the ACLU has declared unconstitutional even in its revised form, into the must-pass House spending bill.

Despite having 292 House cosponsors and 58 in the Senate, Congressional leaders have not brought the IABA to a vote during the 115th Congress. Now, with just days before Democrats take control of the House, and with numerous cosponsors leaving office due to retirements and midterm losses, time could be running out.

The declining chances for the passage next year of the IABA, a longtime AIPAC priority, may account for machinations like the rumored attempt to slip it into the appropriations bill. A newsletter from Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME) warns:

There is reason to believe that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (HR 1697) might be “buried” in an appropriations bill this week. The House schedule for this coming week lists an item “Consideration of Legislation Making Further Appropriations for 2019″―no bill number, and no way to track it. Although we cannot be sure, there is a possibility that the anti-boycott bill will be tacked onto a must-pass appropriations bill.

We must act fast to make sure that our allies (?) on the House Appropriations Committee (see names in red below, from your nine states) strike the draft of this bill BEFORE it gets to the House Rules Committee. Once it gets there, it will be too late to change it, as there is likely no floor discussion, just an up or down vote.

Lara Friedman of the Foundation for Middle East Peace expressed similar concern on her Twitter feed that the IABA and the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act are about to be pushed through Congress:

Rumors flying that Congress set to pass Israel Anti-Boycott Act – designed to punish/prevent differentiation b/w Israel & settlements by quashing free speech. Likely will also move on Orwellian-named Anti-Semitism Awareness act.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act (IABA – S720/HR 1697) seeks to legislate a free speech exception delegitimizing/criminalizing voluntary boycott of Israel OR settlements…. Its explicit goal is erasing distinction between Israel & settlements.

AIPAC et al have been trying to pass these for a very long time. The brazen unconstitutionality has been an obstacle. At least until now.

Friedman has called the IABA an “act of political persecution.” According to Friedman, the IABA “exploits concerns about anti-Semitism as a pretext for policing/delegitimizing/quashing criticism of Israel. It has zero to do with raising awareness about/combating actual anti-Semitism.”

The House spending bill was scheduled to be passed by this Friday, December 7, or else a government shutdown would be triggered. But due to the funeral of former President Bush, a one-week stopgap bill is set to be passed this week and the spending legislation will be decided next week.

The IABA was revised last year in response to First Amendment concerns, dropping prison as a penalty and specifying that speech critical of Israel cannot be used as evidence that the law was broken. But the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights consider the bill “still unconstitutional.” According to the ACLU, the revised IABA imposes criminal financial penalties on “Americans who participate in political boycotts of companies doing business in Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, if those boycotts were called for by international governmental organizations like the United Nations.” (This could include a UN call for a boycott of 206 companies it has listed with business ties to Israeli settlements. The publication of that list has been delayed after “strong pressure” from the US and Israel.)…

Be seeing you

deep state


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