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Democrats Join Republicans In Bill Criminalizing Speech Critical Of Israel

Posted by on Aug. 4, 2017 at 9:15 AM
  • 10 Replies

With Trump as president, it is easy to forget how utterly hopeless many Congressional Democrats are, including many who look like progressives.

The best indicator of Democratic corruption is its slavishness toward the lobby that is to them what the National Rifle Association is to the GOP: the Israel lobby (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and its satellite organizations).

The latest evidence of that slavishness comes in the form of growing support among Democrats in both Houses for legislation sponsored by Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and co-sponsored by Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer that would make it felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, commonly known as BDS. Anyone guilty of violating the prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

According to the ACLU, the Cardin legislation would “bar U.S. persons from supporting boycotts against Israel, including its settlements in the Palestinian Occupied Territories (emphasis mine) conducted by international governmental organizations, such as the United Nations and the European Union. It would also... include penalties for simply requesting information about such boycotts. Violations would be subject to a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison....This bill would impose civil and criminal punishment on individuals solely because of their political beliefs about Israel and its policies.”

Pretty amazing. Why would anyone support such a law? Yes, lots of people (including me) oppose boycotting Israel (although I certainly support boycotting the settlements) but how is it even possible to criminalize simply supporting a boycott to protest the occupation? After all, we boycott states and municipalities here at home to protest discrimination based on race, sexual identity or anything else. Most recently, the state of North Carolina was faced with a boycott to protest its policy against allowing transgender people to use public bathrooms. How can it be legal to refuse to do business with North Carolina but illegal to refuse to do business with Israeli settlements?

The answer is simple: AIPAC, which is the lobby few Democrats (let alone Republicans) are willing to cross. Here is its “Call to Action” sent to every member of the House and Senate telling them, in no uncertain terms, that the Cardin bill is a top priority of the lobby. As for Cardin, it is no surprise that he is the lead sponsor of the bill (1) because he never, if ever, deviates from doing what the Israeli government wants and (2) he is one of the top recipients of campaign contributions from AIPAC officers and associated donors. The same can be said of Schumer who has always carried water for the lobby. (Both senators opposed President Obama’s bill to end sanctions on Iran in exchange for its terminating its nuclear weapons program.)

Am I being unfair to ascribe such venal motives to those Democrats who support this bill? (I don’t mention Republicans because their support for it comports completely with their worldviews which is not the case with the Democrats). I don’t think so because every single Democrat supporting this anti-free speech bill consistently opposes limits on free speech. Their support for this bill represents the only time they promoted legislation to curtail free speech. I cannot imagine any reason for this egregious offense against the First Amendment except to please AIPAC and their AIPAC associated donors.

Fortunately, this legislation can still be stopped. Here are lists of the Senate and House Democrats who are co-sponsoring this abominable bill. Let them know of your opposition. Just as important, if your legislator is not yet a co-sponsor, let him or her know that he or she better not become one.

Many years ago, the #2 man at AIPAC, Steve Rosen (later indicted under the Espionage Act of 1917 wrote me the following about AIPAC’s activities: “A lobby is a night flower. It thrives in the dark and dies in the sun.”

The same applies to those in Congress who, disregarding their constituents, take their marching orders from AIPAC. It’s time to shine some sunlight on them.

The First Amendment does not include an exception stating “does not apply to speech about Israel or its settlements.” We can’t allow a lobby and its Congressional cutouts to insert one. But, believe me, that is their goal and going after BDS supporters is just the beginning.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/democrats-join-republicans-in-bill-criminalizing-speech_us_5978bc17e4b0c6616f7ce6d9

by on Aug. 4, 2017 at 9:15 AM
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cynnie22
by Silver Member on Aug. 4, 2017 at 9:16 AM

THE CRIMINALIZATION OF political speech and activism against Israel has become one of the gravest threats to free speech in the West. In France, activists have been arrested and prosecuted for wearing T-shirts advocating a boycott of Israel. The U.K. has enacted a series of measures designed to outlaw such activism. In the U.S., governors compete with one another over who can implement the most extreme regulations to bar businesses from participating in any boycotts aimed even at Israeli settlements, which the world regards as illegal. On U.S. campuses, punishment of pro-Palestinian students for expressing criticisms of Israel is so commonplace that the Center for Constitutional Rights refers to it as “the Palestine Exception” to free speech.

But now, a group of 43 senators — 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats — wants to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. The two primary sponsors of the bill are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: Anyone guilty of violating the prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

The proposed measure, called the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720), was introduced by Cardin on March 23. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that the bill “was drafted with the assistance of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.” Indeed, AIPAC, in its 2017 lobbying agenda, identified passage of this bill as one of its top lobbying priorities for the year:

The bill’s co-sponsors include the senior Democrat in Washington, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, his New York colleague Kirsten Gillibrand, and several of the Senate’s more liberal members, such as Ron Wyden of Oregon, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Maria Cantwell of Washington. Illustrating the bipartisanship that AIPAC typically summons, it also includes several of the most right-wing senators such as Ted Cruz of Texas, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Marco Rubio of Florida.

[Update – July 20, 2017: Glen Caplin, senior advisor to Gillibrand, sends along the following statement: “We have a different read of the specific bill language, however, due to the ACLU’s concerns, the Senator has extended an invitation to them to meet with her and discuss their concerns.”]

similar measure was introduced in the House on the same date by two Republicans and one Democrat. It has already amassed 234 co-sponsors: 63 Democrats and 174 Republicans. As in the Senate, AIPAC has assembled an impressive ideological diversity among supporters, predictably including many of the most right-wing House members — Jason Chaffetz, Liz Cheney, Peter King — along with the second-ranking Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer.

Among the co-sponsors of the bill are several of the politicians who have become political celebrities by positioning themselves as media leaders of the anti-Trump #Resistance, including three California House members who have become heroes to Democrats and staples of the cable news circuit: Ted Lieu, Adam Schiff, and Eric Swalwell. These politicians, who have built a wide public following by posturing as opponents of authoritarianism, are sponsoring one of the most oppressive and authoritarian bills that has pended before Congress in quite some time.


LAST NIGHT, THE ACLU posted a letter it sent to all members of the Senate urging them to oppose this bill. Warning that “proponents of the bill are seeking additional co-sponsors,” the civil liberties group explained that “it would punish individuals for no reason other than their political beliefs.” The letter detailed what makes this bill so particularly threatening to basic civic freedoms:

https://theintercept.com/2017/07/19/u-s-lawmakers-seek-to-criminally-outlaw-support-for-boycott-campaign-against-israel/

cynnie22
by Silver Member on Aug. 4, 2017 at 9:19 AM

How would I boycott Isearal?  Not buy products made there, not travel there.  Isn't that my right as an American to boycott?  To let my money talk?

Sparkles4Lui
by Gold Member on Aug. 4, 2017 at 9:26 AM
2 moms liked this
WTH?! This is the USA, not Europe.

Same thought here because it also hurts the Palestinians:

"lots of people (including me) oppose boycotting Israel (although I certainly support boycotting the settlements) but how is it even possible to criminalize simply supporting a boycott to protest the occupation?"
smalltowngal
by Platinum Member on Aug. 4, 2017 at 9:44 AM
I know in the past, the Methodist church would not invest in certain companies because of their ties to Israel expansion. Caterpillar is the main one I recall. It's something I would have to research more.
JordannRenee
by on Aug. 4, 2017 at 9:47 AM

How would this be enforced?

Mrs.KAZ
by Silver Member on Aug. 4, 2017 at 9:51 AM
2 moms liked this
This is ridiculous, and doesn't surprise me Schumer has his hand in this.

A US citizen can boycott whatever they want to. If citizens or organizations want to boycott or find information on a boycott then so be it. As long as it is not advocating or supporting violence, I don't see the issue.

cynnie22
by Silver Member on Aug. 4, 2017 at 11:39 AM

I don't get it.  This is censorship in it's finest.  I feel like I must be missing something.

cynnie22
by Silver Member on Aug. 4, 2017 at 11:42 AM
1 mom liked this

So Americans support the freedom of speech, including allowing the KKK and alt-right to hold demonstrations but God forbid we speak critically of Israel?  Something is very wrong here.

I'm writing my representatives.  

Mrs.KAZ
by Silver Member on Aug. 4, 2017 at 11:45 AM
Agreed, I don't support the KKK, but they have the right to demonstrate, and people have the right to counter demonstrate too.

I would write my Senators, but it is Schumer, and Gillebrand won't vote against him😒


Quoting cynnie22:

So Americans support the freedom of speech, including allowing the KKK and alt-right to hold demonstrations but God forbid we speak critically of Israel?  Something is very wrong here.

I'm writing my representatives.  

cynnie22
by Silver Member on Aug. 4, 2017 at 11:50 AM
1 mom liked this

I just wrote both of mine.  Hopefully at the very least I get some clarification on this bill. 

Quoting Mrs.KAZ: Agreed, I don't support the KKK, but they have the right to demonstrate, and people have the right to counter demonstrate too. I would write my Senators, but it is Schumer, and Gillebrand won't vote against him😒
Quoting cynnie22:

So Americans support the freedom of speech, including allowing the KKK and alt-right to hold demonstrations but God forbid we speak critically of Israel?  Something is very wrong here.

I'm writing my representatives.  


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