Boycott is a right and a duty

Boycott is a right and a duty

by Rifat Kassis, General Coordinator for Kairos Palestine and Global Kairos for Justice

[The following article appeared on The Electronic Intifada.]

Israel’s efforts to demonize the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) threaten a venerable form of nonviolent resistance.

These efforts push for the censoring of Palestinian voices and those of our allies, undermining free speech rights and academic freedom while falsely conflating criticism of the State of Israel with anti-Jewish bigotry.

At first, Israeli leadership acted as if the movement wasn’t a threat to its occupation, the policies and practices of which violate international law.

But a decade after the launch of the BDS call in 2005, as the movement gained strength internationally, the Israeli government declared war against it.

Thirty US states have now enacted some form of anti-BDS legislation. Governments, universities and other organizations around the world have also moved to suppress the movement.

In 2018, a public school employee in the US state of Texas was fired for refusing to sign an anti-BDS oath embedded in her employment contract.

She was told that she could no longer work in the state’s public schools after she refused to pledge that she “does not” and “will not” engage in a boycott of Israel or “otherwise take any action that is intended to inflict economic harm [on Israel].”

In April of 2019, a federal court ruled that the Texas law was unconstitutional.

In February this year, an appeals court determined that a similar law in the state of Arkansas violates the First Amendment. The decision was the fourth made by a federal court blocking an anti-BDS law on free speech grounds.

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