The Israel Anti-Boycott Legislation and the Threat to Free Speech

the israel anti-boycott act threatens free speech

Be prepared for a vigorous Q & A when the Markaz and LA Jews for Peace present constitutional lawyer Stephen Rohde on Tuesday, August 15, 7-9 pm. As a legal scholar Rohde will dissect the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S-720 & HR-1697) now moving through Congress, with support from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The discussion takes place at the Workmen's Circle, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., LA 90035 (street and on-site parking available).
There is a requested donation of $10 (no one turned away). Soft drinks will be served.

This program is one in the long-running series Progressive Conversations on Israel/Palestine and US Middle East Foreign Policy, a joint project of The Markaz and LA Jews for Peace.

In a defensive, some would say pre-emptive move, AIPAC and other Israel backers are calling for the censorship of those who would support the peaceful Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement critical of Israel's 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories. These bills, if enacted, would be a clear violation of the First Amendment because they criminalize political speech.  The ACLU is leading the fight against these bills, and Stephen Rohde, our speaker, is past chair of the ACLU Foundation with especial expertise in Constitutional issues.

These bills are AIPAC’s latest attempt to censor criticism of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip and other Israeli government policies.

S-720 and HR-1697 are aimed at attacking boycotts, a key element of BDS, because they are said to threaten Israel.  But the major factor harming Israel’s reputation is its 50-year occupation that expropriates Palestinian land and deprives 4.5 million Palestinians of humanity, dignity, and political and economic rights.  Indeed, the occupation is the specific target of most church boycotts. The presenters content that such bills are not an effective way to fight BDS, because they do not distinguish Israel proper from the illegal settlements.

Stephen Rohde is a constitutional lawyer, lecturer, writer and political activist.  He is immediate past Chair of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Chair of Death Penalty Focus, a founder and Chair of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, and Chair Emeritus of Bend the Arc: a Jewish Partnership for Justice.  Mr. Rohde is the author of the books American Words of Freedom and Freedom of Assembly and co-author of Foundations of Freedom published by the Constitutional Rights Foundation.  He has written for the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Daily Journaland the Los Angeles Review of Books.  For over 45 years, he practiced law first in New York and then in Los Angeles, specializing in communications and intellectual property law, civil and appellate litigation and constitutional and civil rights law.  He has been recognized and honored for his work by the American Bar Association, the ACLU, the Beverly Hills Bar Association, and Bend the Arc. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and Columbia Law School.

Related reading:

Debunking the 2 claims: anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, and BDS unfairly singles out Israel

Should AIPAC Register as a Foreign Agent under FARA?

Israel anti-boycott bill does not violate free speech

This piece of pro-Israel legislation is a serious threat to free speech

LA Jews for Peace on the Anti-Boycott Measures

LA Jews for Peace statement in opposition to the proposed Israel Anti-Boycott Acts is published on the LA Jews for Peace website at:  

  • August 15, 2017 at 7pm – 9pm
  • Workmen's Circle, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., LA 90035
  • $10.00 USD
  • 1 person is going


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