Our First Amendment right is under attack

Jewish Voices for Peace, along with a Palestinian Peace organization are successfully advocating Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) of all Jewish business illegally located in Palestinian territory.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced Senate Bill 1, “Combating BDS Act.” The peace organization Just Foreign Policy says the bill “calls on state and local governments to withhold contracts from any individual or business that boycotts ‘Israel,’ where ‘Israel’ is typically defined as including the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank … Federal judges in Kansas and Arizona have ruled these types of laws to be in violation of our First Amendment right to boycott.”

The American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) supports Senate Bill 1 and says supporters of BDS are being anti-Semitic. Since when is criticizing Israeli government policy anti-Semitism? Illegal Israeli colonies in the Palestinian West Bank are an obstacle to peace. Why should Jewish Voices for Peace and others not have the right to boycott?

J Street, another Jewish peace organization, does not support the BDS movement but it does oppose Senate Bill 1. It shares the same goals as Jewish Voices for Peace but prefers other, nonviolent means to achieve the goal.

BDS was an important tool in bringing down the apartheid government in South Africa. The Grape Boycott led by Cesar Chavez and Delores Huerta succeeded in gaining recognition of the Farm Workers Union and a contract for better pay and working conditions. Other unions and religious organizations supported the boycott. The goal is to achieve justice by nonviolent means.

I belong to Jewish Voices for Peace and J Street, although I am not Jewish. I also belong to Pax Christi, a Catholic peace organization. We need BDS to get us to our goal: a peace based on justice and respect for all. To oppose Senate Bill 1, call (202) 225-3121.

Arthur Donart, Ph.D.
Thomson, Ill.

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