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Bernie Sanders, Dianne Feinstein join opposition to anti-BDS bill

December 20, 2018 at 11:20 am

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (L) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) hold a news conference to announce proposed gun control legislation in Washington, US on 4 October 2017 [Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

Bernie Sanders and Dianne Feinstein “sent a letter on Thursday to Senate leaders urging them not to promote a controversial piece of legislation that will penalize boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the West Bank”, reported Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Sanders and Feinstein, described by Haaretz as “two of the most prominent Jewish members of the Senate”, warned that the proposed legislation will harm free speech in the US.

“While we do not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, we remain resolved to our constitutional oath to defend the right of every American to express their views peacefully without fear of actual punishment by the government,” the letter added.

The letter was sent to Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, both of whom support the anti-boycott bill.

READ: Sanders cites Israel’s ‘Nation State Law’ as an example of the rise of authoritarianism 

As noted by Haaretz, the law has been met with opposition from leading civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, “over concerns that it will limit American citizens’ freedom of speech”, with courts in Kansas and Arizona already ruling two such laws as unconstitutional.

Sanders and Feinstein “also warned that the legislation will create de-facto American support for the settlements, by punishing American citizens who choose to boycott them.”

“At a time when the Netanyahu government is pursuing policies clearly aimed at foreclosing the two-state solution, it is deeply disappointing that Congress would consider choosing to penalize criticism of those policies,” they wrote.