There has been a movement growing in the U.S. It is called the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It is used by U.S. companies that think the State of Israel has gone too far in its treatment of Palestinians.
Israel is our most staunch ally in the Mideast. However, the question becomes just how far do we allow Israel to go in its treatment of the Palestinians. Yes, I know they are fighting for their survival, but does ignoring international law help or hurt that fight for survival.
For example, why is it necessary for Israel to continue to build settlements in the occupied West Bank. According to the treaties with the Palestinians the West Bank is supposed to “their” country. If that is true, then Israel is illegally building settlements on foreign territory.
There are other examples of excessive force and even torture against civilian Palestinians. So, there has been a quiet movement going on using BDS to show disapproval of these actions by Israel. Problem is that too many politicians in this country don’t want to “piss off” the Israelis and are doing things to stop the movement.
The latest move was just done in New Jersey. New Jersey is a mostly democratic controlled state that currently has a Republican Governor. They passed an anti-BDS bill in June and Chris Christie just signed the bill into law.
What this bill does is enforce the state of New Jersey to investigate the “motives” of why a company refuses to do business with Israel. They will then be able to “punish” that company. The penalty will be the leverage of State Investment Council which oversees over $80 billion in pension assets. The State Investment Council would be required by law not to invest in any company that is on the “black list” of companies.
In other words, what Republicans call “free speech” will be denied and punished if it used to express displeasure with Israel by a company who refuses to do business with Israel. Boycotts have been used, especially in this country, as a form of expression against certain policies.
Boycotts are not violent. They simply express the views of people and/or companies about policies and practices of governments. New Jersey isn’t alone in this view of anti-BDS either. New York governor signed an executive establishing their own black list.
President Obama and all of the Presidential Candidates see BDS as something evil and shouldn’t take place. The real irony to me is the Republican stand on this issue. Remember, this is the same party that claims “religious freedom” means you can discriminate against groups like the LGBT community. So how can they claim these anti-BDS bills are anything but an attack on “free speech”?
When he signed the bill, Christie said” “Israel is the beacon of democracy in a region that is constantly in turmoil.” He also called Israel “our one true friend in the region.” That may be true. But, does that mean we cannot criticize the country for Human Rights violations?
Look, the Jews and the Arabs have been fighting and killing each other for over 4000 years over the same stretch of desert. If given the chance they will probably continue killing each other for the next 4000 years. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Israel would have far better standing in the world if they were to treat their Palestinian neighbors humanely. I am not saying they don’t have a right to defend themselves. They do. But, that right does not give them the right to inhumanely treat Palestinians by torturing them or by destroying their homes because Israel thinks someone in the family is a terrorist. Nor, does it give them the right to build Jewish settlements on Palestinian land.
The BDS movement is not a “government sanctioned” movement, obviously. It is a group of businesses who have decided not to do business with Israel until these human rights violations stop occurring. The anti-BDS movement setting up “black lists” of these companies is a violation of their rights under our constitution.
No company is or should be forced to do business with any country. Nor, should they be punished for not doing business with a particular country just because the government doesn’t like their reasons.
It would be wonderful if all countries and peoples followed the laws. It would be wonderful if all countries and people treated each other like human beings. Unfortunately, that is not the way of the world.
That does not give the government the right to punish those who decide to act peacefully against countries who openly violate those tenants. With this anti-BDS movement going on, all Americans must ask ourselves if we really stand for the principles we claim to.
Black list laws like these anti-BDS bills say we do not.