Among the many state and local orgs that work in the shadows for Israel is the Virginia-Israel Advisory Board (VIAB), funded by Virginia taxpayers. VIAB’s main objective is to provide preferential and unconditional funding to oftentimes secretive Israeli business projects designed to entwine Israeli industries into Virginia industries and government. VIAB is currently being scrutinized by the state Attorney General over its handling of government funds.
Tennessee has just passed a resolution reaffirming Tennessee’s “unequivocal support” for Israel. State Senator Mark Pody pushed for its passage for “biblical” and other reasons..
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Brian Hauss dissects the accusation from the anti-BDS camp that it is “hypocritical” to support anti-discrimination laws (think: wedding cake), but oppose anti-BDS laws. Bottom line: businesses do not have the right to refuse service to consumers because of who they are. On the other hand, consumers have a First Amendment right to withhold their patronage from businesses in order to express their political beliefs.
Americans in general do not like anti-BDS laws nearly as much as Congress does: just 22.5% of American adults polled favor anti-boycott measure. But Washington and many state legislatures are pushing through legislation that would criminalize boycott of Israel.
As Congress tackles urgent issues of reopening government and setting the budget for the country, it takes the time to prioritize a foreign country: H.R.648 contains assurances that Israel will receive $3.8 billion for arms, and funding for refugee resettlement; the bill also includes threats to de-fund the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and any future state of Palestine–if US demands (dictated by the Israel lobby) are not met.
Israel partisans are pushing bills that impede Americans’ right to boycott. These are being enacted in state legislatures and introduced in Congress… while politicians are poised to give Israel even more money…
Katherine Franke writes in the New York Review of Books that while Palestinian rights are getting more attention than ever, advocates of justice still face accusations of “anti-Semitism,” harassment, and most of all, censorship on college campuses….
Activist and scholar Angela Davis is articulate and compelling as she speaks with Amy Goodman about injustice in Palestine and the injustice of those groups trying to shut down dialogue. She is gratified that the outcome of her controversial loss of the Shuttlesworth Award includes a robust conversation about justice for Palestinians; she also notes the fact that many groups, including some Jewish groups, support her.
As a result of public pressure, the Vermont State Police and the police department for Northampton Massachusetts have decided to pull out of the ADL-sponsored, all-expenses-paid “Resiliency and Counterterrorism” program in Israel. The seminar highlights methods Israel uses to “thwart terrorism within its framework of a democratic and multicultural nation.”
NY State Senator Jeff Klein seems torn between two viewpoints: one says “all people are created equal, with certain unalienable rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The other, incompatible with the first: “Israel, right or wrong.”