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‘The Palestine Exception’: War on BDS is now a war on American democracy

Image of protesters supporting the BDS movement outside Downing Street during Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the UK on September 9 2016
Image of protesters supporting the BDS movement outside Downing Street during Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the UK on September 9 2016

There is something immoral in Washington D.C., and its consequences can be dire for many people, particularly for the health of US democracy.

The US government is declaring war on the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The fight to defeat BDS has been ongoing for several years, but most notably since 2014.

Since then, 11 US states have passed and enacted legislation to criminalise the movement, backed by civil society, which aims to put pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Palestine.

Washington is now leading the fight, thus legitimising the anti-democratic behaviour of individual states. If the efforts of the US government are successful, an already struggling US democracy will take yet another step back, and many good people could potentially be punished for behaving in accordance with their political and moral values.

Senate Bill 720 (S.720), also known as the “Anti-Israel Boycott Act”, was largely drafted by the notorious and powerful Israel lobby in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

According to its own “2017 Lobbying Agenda”, AIPAC has made the passing of the bill its top priority.

Read: Timeline: International attempts to boycott BDS

The US Congress is beholden by Israel’s interests and by the “stranglehold” of AIPAC over the elected representatives of the American people.

Thus, it was no surprise to see 43 senators and 234 House representatives backing the bill, which was first introduced in March.

Although the Congress has habitually backed Israel and condemned Palestinians – and any politician or entity that dared recognise Palestinian rights – this time, the Congress is going too far and is jeopardising the very basic rights of its own constituencies.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution has been the pillar in defense of people’s right to free speech, freedom of the press, “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  This right, however, has often been curtailed when it applies to Israel. The Centre for Constitutional Rights refers to this fact as “The Palestine Exception”.

S.720, however, if it passes, will cement the new US status, that of “flawed democracy” as opposed to a full democratic nation that legislates and applies all laws fairly and equally to all of its citizens. The law would make it a “felony” for Americans to support the boycott of Israel.

Punishment of those who violate the proposed law ranges from $250,000 to $1 million, and/or 20 years in prison.

The bill has already had chilling effects on many groups in the country, especially among African American activists, who are fighting institutionalised racism. If the bill becomes law, the precedent will become the norm, and dissidents will find themselves standing trial for their mere opinions.

Read more: South African parliament refuses to meet Israeli delegation

With regard to Israel, the US Congress is united. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers often act in ways contrary to the interests of their own country, just to appease the Israeli government. This is no secret.

However, the real danger is that such laws go beyond the traditional blind allegiance to Israel – into a whole level of acquiesce, where the government punishes people and organisations for the choices they make, the values they hold dear or the mere inquiry of information about an issue that they may find compelling.

On 17 July, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a letter calling on lawmakers who signed the Senate version of the bill to reconsider.

The bill would punish businesses and individuals, based solely on their point of view. Such a penalty is in direct violation of the First Amendment

 ACLU stated.

Only one person, thus far, has reportedly reconsidered her support, junior Democratic Senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand. She requested for her name to be removed from the list of co-signatories.

AIPAC’s reaction was immediate, calling on its army of supporters to pressure the Senator to reinstate her name on the list and to “reaffirm her commitment to fighting the international de-legitimisation of Israel.”

Dire as it may seem, there is something positive in this. For many years, it has been wrongly perceived that Israel’s solicitation of American support against Palestinians and Arabs is, by no means, a foreign country meddling or interfering in the US political system or undermining US democracy.

The “Israel Anti-Boycott Act”, however, is the most egregious of such interventions, for it strikes down the First Amendment, the very foundation of American democracy, by using America’s own lawmakers to carry out the terrible deed.

Read: BDS gains support from US Mennonite churches

This bill exposes Israel, as well as its hordes of supporters, in Congress. Moreover, it presents human rights defenders with the opportunity to champion BDS, thus the rights of the Palestinian people and also the rights of all Americans. It would be the first time in many years that the battle for Palestinian rights can be openly discussed and contextualised in a way that most Americans find relevant to their everyday life.

Actually, this was one of the aims of BDS, from the start. While the boycott and de-legitimisation of the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinians is at the core of the civil society-backed movement, BDS also aims at generating an urgent discussion on Israel and Palestine.

Although inadvertently, the Congress is now making this very much possible.

The bill, and the larger legislative efforts across the US – and Europe – are also a source of hope in the sense that it is recreating the very events that preceded the demise of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

The US and British governments, in particular, opposed the South African liberation movement, condemned the boycott and backed the racist authoritarian role of P. W. Botha to the very end. Former President, Ronald Reagan, perceived Nelson Mandela to be a terrorist. Mandela was not removed from the US terror list until 2008.

It is quite telling that the US, UK and Israel were the most ardent supporters of South Africa’s apartheid.

Now, it is as if history is repeating itself. The Israeli version of apartheid is fighting for legitimacy and refuses to concede. It wants to colonise all of Palestine, mistreat its people and violate international law without a mere word of censure from an individual or an organisation.

The US government has not changed much, either. It carries on supporting the Israeli form of apartheid, while shamelessly paying lip service to the legacy of Mandela and his anti-apartheid struggle.

Although the new chapter of the anti-apartheid struggle is called “Palestine”, the US and its western backers continue to repeat the same costly policies they committed against the South African people.

As for true champions of human rights, regardless of their race, religion or citizenship, this is their moment. No meaningful change ever occurs without people being united in struggle and sacrifice.

In one of his speeches, an American abolitionist and former slave, Frederick Douglass said: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

The US Congress, with the help of AIPAC, is criminalising this very demand of justice.

Americans should not stand for this, if not for the sake of Palestinians, then for their own sake.

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  • Ricardo Silva

    The Rothschilds set up the Illuminati in 1776 to subvert the Christian basis of Western Civilization. They took over much of Freemasonry and used it to infiltrate all social institutions. Mouthing words like “freedom,” “equality” and “progress,” they are bent on melding family, race, religion, and nation into a malleable anonymous mush. Their world police state, now called “globalization,” lies behind the facade of “The Patriot Act” and “The War on Terror.”

    Harold Wallace Rosenthal says, “Most Jews do not like to admit it, but our god is Lucifer…and we are his chosen people. Lucifer is very much alive.”

    This statement applies to modern culture as a whole. We do not like to admit that our “secular” society is based on a cosmic rebellion against God. Its true satanic character is becoming more evident every day.

    INSIGHTS

    Rosenthal says the “Jews” have built an earthly empire partly by rejecting Christ’s vision of a spiritual kingdom based on brotherly love. Jewish bankers plan to govern the world from Jerusalem according to their own interests.

    He says the Jewish religion is essentially a disguise for a racial imperative. “We can live among other people and states [by] persuading them that the Jews are not a distinct people but the representatives of a religious faith…”

    “Jewish” power was created through control of the monetary system.

    “Through our national bank, the Federal Reserve, we extend book credit which we create from nothing to all local banks …[Thus] we bring industry, management and labour into our debt…and pit management against labour so they will never unite and attack us and usher in a debt-free industrial utopia.”

    Through control of banking, the “Jews” acquired a total monopoly of “the movie industry, the radio networks and the newly developing television media…we took over the publication of all school materials… Even your music! We censor the songs released for publication long before they reach the publishers…we will have complete control of your thinking.”

    He boasts that they even implanted a “guilt complex” over the Holocaust and anti Semitism that prevents society from addressing the problem.

    “We Jews have put issue upon issue to the American people. Then we promote both sides of the issue as confusion reigns. With their eyes fixed on the issues, they fail to see who is behind every scene. We Jews toy with the American public as a cat toys with a mouse.”

    Rosenthal avers that society can only escape this death clutch by violent action not education.

    “History has been written in blood, not with ink. No letter, editorial or book has ever rallied the people or stopped tyranny. We understand this principle and are forever propagandizing the people to write letters to the President, to Congress…Woe be unto us if they ever see the futility of it, lay down the pen and employ the sword.”

    But Rosenthal is not worried. Alluding to the promotion of feminism and homosexuality, he says:

    “We have castrated society through fear and intimidation. Its manhood exists only in combination with a feminine outward appearance. Being so neutered, the populace has become docile and easily ruled. As all geldings…their thoughts are not involved with the concerns of the future and their posterity, but only with the present and with the next meal.”

    Rosenthal talks about how a “Jewish” invisible government also controls the USSR, and how the UN is “nothing but a trap door to the Red World’s immense concentration camp.” He says this invisible power is responsible for the wars and revolutions of the last 200 years.

    • tavistock

      The same today, they are on the thousands of years plan

  • Brooklyn Dave

    Politically I was never a fan of Gillebrand, but I have to give her credit for taking on AIPAC – a senator from NY nonetheless. Her other half in the Senate, Chuck Schumer must be feeling the tsuris. He is definitely AIPAC’s boy in the Senate.

  • Jack Hamilton

    If this bill passed, all members of Congress voting in favor of it have proven themselves to be traitors to all Americans and should be charged, tried and punished accordingly! Israel has a stranglehold on America and all Americans suffer as a result. Dual Israeli/American citizens should not be allowed to hold political office or any positions in US government!

  • Zina Ciceklic

    Democracy is an American tool for introducing war, poverty, disease, terror around the world, an American designer who is strongly opposed to life. Democracy is essentially a matter of suffering and destruction.

  • Bishadi

    Nothing can stop individuals from boycotting the apartheid state, israel,
    sanctions will be an act of congress one day to
    but boycotting and divestment of anything and everything israel, is just good judgment.

  • Bishadi

    I will support bds until reparations are paid to the victims, by israel.

  • Michael Dale Johnson

    I’m ashamed of my (the U.S.) governments staunch support of the Israeli/Zionist regime. I take no great pleasure in saying that “we” (the U.S.) are as deserving of BDS as any country on earth.

    • Ricardo Silva

      Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to Boycott the US, since everything has already been outsourced to China, Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia…