Stop anti-BDS legislation in the US Senate

Action alert
May 11, 2015
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It is clearer than ever just how much of an impact the global movement for boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) is having in challenging Israel's occupation and apartheid policies--so much that Israel’s supporters are mobilizing top-down U.S. legislation about it!

As early as tomorrow, the Senate may debate and vote on fast-track trade legislation, which includes an anti-BDS provision. This legislation would make it a “principal trade negotiating objective of the United States” to “discourage politically motivated actions” that “limit commercial relations” with Israel and Israeli businesses, including those operating in illegal Israeli colonies in Occupied Palestinian Territory.

This provision is designed to pressure the European Union (EU) -- which is currently negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States -- to reverse course on recent steps to oppose Israeli settlements. These include new guidelines preventing entities operating from Israeli-occupied territory from receiving EU funding and a push to label settlement products entering the EU.

The Senate may also vote this week on another trade-related bill that has more extensive anti-BDS provisions which would require the President to submit a report to Congress on BDS campaigns and urge states to blacklist companies that support BDS. 

These anti-BDS legislative efforts are significant, but we want to emphasize loudly and clearly that nothing in these bills makes it illegal, or even restricts us in any way, from pursuing BDS campaigns. It has been and remains our First Amendment right to advocate for and organize BDS campaigns against Israel and corporations that profit from its human rights abuses of Palestinians. 

TAKE ACTION

Call your senators and tell them to oppose these anti-BDS measures. Get their contact info here

TALKING POINTS

  • I am constituent of Senator X calling to oppose the provision in S.995, The Trade Promotion Authority Bill, commonly known as “fast-track” trade authority, which would make it a “principal trade negotiating objective” of the US to discourage campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and corporations that profit from its human rights abuses of Palestinians.
  • I also understand that The Customs Bill, which currently does not have a number, may also come up for a vote this week. I also oppose anti-BDS provisions in this bill which would, for example, require the President to submit a report to Congress on BDS activities.  
  • BDS measures are legitimate, nonviolent tactics to oppose Israel’s ongoing oppression of Palestinians. Similar measures have been used in the past and present to advance social justice both at home and abroad.
  • The United States has no right to pressure other countries not to limit their commercial relations with Israel or Israeli businesses, especially those located in Israel’s illegal settlements.
  • Principal trade negotiating objectives of the United States should be what are in the best interest of workers in the United States and abroad, and the environment and sustainability, not what are in the best interests of Israel’s apartheid control over the Palestinians.
  • Congress can pass no legislation that in any way restricts my First Amendment right to advocate for and organize BDS campaigns. I will continue to support BDS as a way for Palestinians to achieve the freedom, justice and equality they deserve.

Not only are Israel and its supporters on Capitol Hill so worried about BDS that they’re engaging in these top-down efforts to stifle it, but they’re also fearful about having an open debate on this legislation. Instead of trying to advance these bills on their own, their proponents tried to sneak them in to unrelated bills and keep the texts secret in the hopes we wouldn’t notice

But we did notice and we’re not going to stand idly by. Please pick up the phone today to call your Senators and make it clear to them that we oppose anti-BDS legislative efforts and that we’re going to continue to push for BDS to support Palestinians in their quest for freedom, justice and equality. 

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