In 2005, Palestinian civil society launched the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement ( bdsmovement.net) in an effort to obtain their basic human and political rights. Since then, despite little attention in the U.S. mainstream media, this movement has grown worldwide and has had many successes. Even if the political leaders of nations fail to support the legitimate rights of Palestinians, this BDS movement resonates with people and groups who respect human rights for everyone, including Palestinians. This movement is similar to the nonviolent campaign used successfully against South African Apartheid.
The accomplishments of this nonviolent movement have created a panic among the Israeli leadership. Israel and its Zionist supporters predictably resorted to using the false claim that the movement was anti-Semitic. However, this charge has been so widely misused against people challenging criminal Israeli policies that it no longer prevents some from standing up for freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians.
Next, the Israeli government claimed that the BDS movement was trying to delegitimize Israel. However, it is Israel's excessive violence and brutality against mostly defenseless Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian West Bank and Gaza that has already delegitimized Israel in the view of many, including a large number of American Jews. Moreover, this unnecessary Israeli brutality against Palestinians deviates from the highest values of Judaism, values exhibited by many courageous American Jews during the struggle for black Civil Rights in the 1960s. This Israeli departure from Judaism's highest values also does great harm to the perception of Jews worldwide.
Currently, the Israeli Lobby is working with U.S. politicians to eliminate our First Amendment rights of free speech at the state and national level. For example, at the national level, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) is pushing a highly controversial bill to ban boycotts of Israel. Regarding this bill, the American Civil Liberties Union ( aclu.org) states:
"Congress plans to sneak a bill criminalizing boycotts of Israel into the end-of-year, must-pass omnibus spending bill. If passed, the bill would give federal officials a new weapon at their disposal to suppress speech they find objectionable or politically unpopular." ACLU added: "The Supreme Court has made clear that the First Amendment protects the right to participate in political boycotts, and just this year, two federal courts blocked state laws seeking to suppress boycotts of Israel."
Please contact Sen.Michael Bennet (202-224-5852), Sen. Cory Gardner (202-224-5941) and Rep. Jared Polis (202-225-2161) and demand that they protect our First Amendment rights by opposing this bill that bans boycotts of Israel.
At the state level, the situation is just as bad if not worse. Twenty-six states including Colorado have passed bills targeting boycotts of Israel. For more information on the states, please read the in-depth article by Glenn Greenwald at theintercept.com/2018/12/17/israel-texas-anti-bds-law.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.