so-called “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” would impose
fines of up to $250,000 (£192,000) on any US
citizen “engaged in interstate or foreign
commerce” who supports a boycott of Israeli
goods and services.
The US has long defended Israel in territorial
disputes in the Middle East, even as the
Israeli military has
expanded into areas assigned to the Palestinians
by international law.
This position runs
counter to that of the United Nations,
which claims Israel’s settlements in occupied
Palestinian territory have “no legal validity”,
and “constitute flagrant violation of
In their new legislation, members of Congress
claim the UN is considering a resolution to
withhold assistance from – and prevent trade
with – settlements in
West Bank, and
the Golan Heights.
Israel Anti-Boycott act would punish any
American who supported such measures.
However, the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) has argued that the bill would “impose
civil and criminal punishment on individuals
solely because of their political beliefs about
Israel and its policies”, in a letter sent to
members of the Senate.
short, the bill would punish businesses and
individuals solely based on their point of
view,” it wrote. “Such a penalty is in direct
violation of the First Amendment.”
Israel: From independence to
the bill – reportedly drafted with the help of
the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
– has received widespread bipartisan support.
Democratic Senator Gary Peters of Michigan
responded by asking: “What’s the Act?”
Claire McCaskill claimed she had not read the
ACLU letter, but would “take their position into
consideration, just like I take everybody’s
position into consideration”.
Meanwhile, Senator Benjamin Cardin – the bill’s
primary sponsor – said that he “doesn’t think”
the bill criminalises participating in boycotts,
as the ACLU has claimed.
very sensitive to freedom of speech; we are very
sensitive to people having different views,” he
said. “We’re not trying to weigh in at all on
the differences between the Palestinians and the
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