Israel has deprived the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip of their rights since the war of 1967.
Gaza is a prison camp under a long-standing Israeli blockade, punctuated ever few years by full-blow military assault. Peaceful protesters in Gaza have been shot by Israeli military snipers from outside the prison fence, killing hundreds and wounding tens of thousands. Israeli hardline Zionist refer to actions such as these as just “mowing the lawn.”
The Palestinians in the West Bank have no rights and are subject to military surveillance and Jewish-only settlements and roads, as well as a separation wall that snakes through the territory. It is naked apartheid in that Jews have full rights while Palestinians are treated like nonpersons.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is a Palestinian-led movement that supports the advancement of freedom, justice and equality. The notion that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity, specifically in Israel. It is not so radical to believe that they should have the same rights as Israelis. Why even here, in the US, we allow Asians, Latinos, Arabs and Africans to have the same rights as Caucasians.
BOYCOTTS involve withdrawing support from Israel’s apartheid regime, complicit Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions, and from all Israeli and international companies engaged in violations of Palestinian human rights.
DIVESTMENT campaigns urge banks, local councils, churches, pension funds and universities to withdraw investments from the State of Israel and all Israeli and international companies that sustain Israeli apartheid.
SANCTIONS campaigns pressure governments to fulfill their legal obligations to end Israeli apartheid, and not aid or assist its maintenance, by banning business with illegal Israeli settlements, ending military trade and free-trade agreements, as well as suspending Israel’s membership in international forums such as UN bodies and FIFA.
The BDS movement is voluntary and selective for all those that choose to participate. I do not completely agree with the Sanction part of this movement. However, I do think that the $3.8 billion that Israel receives annually, in military appropriation, from the U.S. should be eliminated.
Currently, there are twenty-seven states have enacted anti-BDS laws or executive orders that prohibit state agencies and state-financed entities, such as colleges, from doing business with any person or firm that participates in BDS.
The absurdity of this legislation has recently come to fruition. Journalist and filmmaker Abby Martin and the state of Georgia had an incident over her allegiance to the Israeli government. Martin explained; “After I was scheduled to give keynote speech [about the media, not about BDS] at an upcoming @GeorgiaSouthern [University] conference, organizers said I must comply w/ Georgia’s anti-BDS law and sign a contractual pledge to not boycott Israel. I refused & my talk was canceled.”
Some of us may remember another situation involving a Texas public school educator’s allegiance to Israel. When in 2018, Bahia Amawi, a Houston-based children’s speech pathologist who worked with autistic, speech-impaired and other developmentally disabled children, lost her job after she refused to sign a similar document. Amawi had been at her job for nine years previously without a problem.
In this Texas case, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), managed to overturn every Texas boycott law on the grounds of their unconstitutionality and she is now free to return to work. Quoting a previous case, federal district Judge Robert Pitman ruled that the Texas anti-BDS law “threatens to suppress unpopular ideas” and “manipulate the public debate” on Israel and Palestine “through coercion rather than persuasion.” Judge Pitman added: “the First Amendment does not allow.”
All States exist from the taxes that everyone is forced to pay without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, or sex. Therefore, before the law, discrimination is wrong and a principle of equality must be followed. States, or any tax-financed entities, can not discriminate in hiring or contracting, particularly with conditions that infringe upon the right to free speech, like advocating BDS or peaceful action such as boycotting.
* The states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin.