- Category: Newsletters
by M. Theresa Basile
Nov 8 – Updates on this article:
A full page ad was published in the Kansas City Star on Nov 7th, a statement calling on Americans to protect free speech and the right to boycott, signed by by MFSA, UMKR and dozens of other faith-based organizations.
The day before, an open letter was sent to Congress by 20 top leaders of national Christian organizations, opposing the "Israel Anti-Boycott Act."
What does a schoolteacher in Kansas seeking a job have in common with survivors of Hurricane Harvey in Texas needing disaster relief? And what could either of those situations have to do with Israel?
Both the schoolteacher in Kansas and residents of Dickinson, Texas have been denied equal access to state benefits and opportunities, if they will not guarantee they do not support a boycott of Israeli products.
As absurd as that may sound, it is really happening in America today.
Something called “anti-BDS legislation” has been enacted in recent years in over twenty states. Reminiscent of the 1950’s, when people were asked to certify they did not belong to the Communist Party, Americans today are faced again with McCarthyist discrimination, this time in the Orwellian guise of opposing discrimination - that is, discrimination against Israel, with which the US has a “special relationship.” Special indeed, when it is used to penalize Americans who participate in a boycott that addresses injustice.
Imagine our citizens being punished for boycotting businesses that discriminate against African Americans. Oh wait, that did happen, in Mississippi! In the NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that such a boycott is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment.