Anti-BDS bills expected to feature prominently at AIPAC
Annual meeting to push for measures that counter boycott Israel campaign as rights groups call bills 'unconstitutional'
Publisher: Al Jazeera
Date Written: 03/03/2018
Year Published: 2018
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX22671
At the annual meeting of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), the lobbying group's agenda is set to propose measures to counter the growing campaign to boycott Israel and its West Bank settlements. At the centre of discussion are anti-bocott bills, described by critics as laws designed to curb the not-for-profit Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement- a human rights movement that supports Palestinian rights.
The non-profit found that as of March 1, 2018, 23 states enacted laws or executive orders to withhold contracts from companies and individuals that boycott either Israel or its settlements, essentially conflating the two.
At the federal level, Congress is pushing forward with a bill called the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would impose criminal penalties - up to $1m fine and 20 years in prison - on those supporting, promoting or providing information that champions efforts to boycott Israel, including its settlements.
The bill's main sponsors, who will be speaking at the AIPAC conference, argue that they are merely updating long-standing, anti-boycott legislation, which dates back to the 1970s and were written to address the Arab League boycott of Israel. They deny that the bill would target US individuals or involve criminal or civil penalties.
Critics, such as Friedman, argue that under the bill's provisions, researchers or activists could be found legally liable for producing information on Israeli settlements based on the UN database or the EU's differentiation strategy, which requires excluding settlement activities from its bilateral relations with Israel.