News Release

Stressing Free Speech, Court Strikes Down Israel Boycott Punishment

Nora Barrows-Friedman reports in the Electronic Intifada: “An Israeli lawfare group tied to the Mossad — Israel’s deadly spy agency — is suing two New Zealand activists for ‘influencing’ pop singer Lorde to cancel her Tel Aviv gig in late December.” See the response from the two activists, Nadia Abu-Shanab and Justine Sachs, “Israel’s Bullying and Intimidation Tactics Will Not Silence Us.”

Glenn Greenwald writes in The Intercept: “A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that a Kansas law designed to punish people who boycott Israel is an unconstitutional denial of free speech.” The plaintiff, Esther Koontz recently wrote: “I’m a member of the Mennonite Church. I’ve also been a math teacher for almost a decade. Because of my political views, the state of Kansas has decided that I can’t help it train other math teachers.” See her full statement on the website of the ACLU, which represents her.

Greenwald adds: “Beyond the court’s emphatic rationale, the decision is significant because repressive measures like this have spread, and continue to spread, far beyond Kansas. Indeed, as we have repeatedly reported and documented, the single greatest threat to free speech in the West — and in the U.S. — is the coordinated, growing campaign to outlaw and punish those who advocate for or participate in activism to end the Israeli occupation. …

“Last year, a measure sponsored by Benjamin Cardin, a Democratic senator from Maryland and an AIPAC loyalist, joined by 43 other senators, went even further, purporting to impose prison sentences and large fines for anyone working with international organizations to boycott Israel.”

DIMA KHALIDI, dkhalidi at palestinelegal.org, @pal_legal
Khalidi is director of Palestine Legal and is cooperating counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights. She said today: “This preliminary injunction affirmed what we have been saying for years: that boycotts for Palestinian rights are political protests protected by the First Amendment. Twenty-four states have enacted similar laws in the past three years, and Congress is currently considering the draconian Israel Anti-Boycott Act. This injunction should be a wake-up call to those state and federal lawmakers: stop trampling on our constitutional rights to shield Israel from criticism. Now more than ever we need lawmakers willing to protect and defend the constitution.”

Producers may want to use Lorde’s [actually Sia‘s] “Push” as intro music for any segment on this.