Government-imposed penalties for anti-Israel boycotts hammer free speech

A Texas speech pathologist is suing her school district in federal court for requiring her to sign a contract to pledge not to boycott Israel during the term of her contract. Bahia Amawi said to sign would betray Palestinians suffering under occupation and her “fellow Americans by enabling violations of our constitutional rights to free speech and to protest peacefully.” (The Charlotte Observer, December 18, 2018, by Matthew Martinez)

The battle is also being waged in the nation’s capitol as a group of senators try to insert the anti-boycott Israel act into the budget bill slated for approval by January 1. Jewish Senators Bernie Sanders and Dianne Feinstein proclaimed their opposition to the legislation on free speech grounds pointing out that it would punish Americans for boycotting Israel over settlements in the West Bank thus penalizing them for opposing Israel’s policies. (Haaretz, December 20, 2018, by Amir Tibon)

A New York Times editorial, December 18, 2018, says the law imposing criminal penalties on companies and organizations that boycott Israel would penalize political speech. The law would make it difficult to put heat on Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his hard-line policies and failure to pursue peace through establishment of a Palestinian state.

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