(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/7/19) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, today called on all Americans who value the Constitution to contact their elected representatives in Congress to urge them to oppose an “anti-BDS” bill introduced last week that would provide federal protection to states that pass laws penalizing Americans who participate in political boycotts aimed at Israel and its illegal settlements in occupied territories.
[NOTE: BDS refers to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions in support of Palestinian human rights.]
SEE: U.S. Senate’s First Bill, in the Midst of the Shutdown, Is a Bipartisan Defense of the Israeli Government From Boycotts
Introduced by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), James Risch (R-ID), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019 combines four bills, including the “Combating BDS Act of 2019”. It also confirms $38 billion in assistance to Israel over the next 10 years.
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“This unconstitutional bill violates the First Amendment rights of all Americans to challenge the illegal and discriminatory actions of a foreign government and goes against the principles of free speech on which our country was founded,” said CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw. “The senators’ decision to introduce this bill as the very first piece of legislation in the 116th Congress, while their own government enters its third week of a shutdown, is deeply troubling.”
McCaw noted that the bill would make Israel the only country in the world, including the United States itself, that it is illegal to boycott.
The bill is likely to be voted on tomorrow, January 8. While it currently only has three cosponsors, a similar version of the bill in the last year’s Congress attracted 48 cosponsors from both parties.
Last month, CAIR filed a motion on behalf of a Texas speech pathologist who was fired for refusing to sign a statement certifying that she does not, and will not, boycott Israel or Israeli settlements.
SEE: CAIR Files Motion to Enjoin Texas Anti-BDS Act as Unconstitutional
There are currently 26 states with anti-BDS laws already on the books. The two federal courts that have ruled on these laws in Arizona and Kansas have both declared them unconstitutional and in violation of the First Amendment.