While the ACLU and pro-Palestinian groups claim that state anti-BDS legislation violates the US Constitution, pro-Israel activists are fighting back.
By: JNS and United with Israel Staff
An amicus brief was filed on Tuesday in support of 2016 Arizona anti-BDS law, which prohibits its governmental agencies from conducting business with contractors that partake in boycotting Israeli goods or services.
The Zachor Legal Institute, a legal think-tank and advocacy organization that combats BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), filed the suit with the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Boycotts are an important way for people to collectively call for social change,” said attorney Mikkel Jordahl, who boycotts the Jewish state due to “Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). His firm provides support to organizations that support BDS.
However, “the law’s certification requirement prevents state contractors such as Jordahl’s firm from participating in these activities,” according to the ACLU.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the federal lawsuit, Jordhal v. Brnovich, last year, arguing the law violates the First Amendment. Mark Brnovich is Arizona’s Attorney General.
However, in addition to Zachor Legal, groups such as StandWithUs disagree with the ACLU.
“The Act does not constrain … expression of political views; it addresses non-expressive conduct not entitled to First Amendment protection,” said StandWithUs in a statement.
In September, the Arizona measure was overturned by a district court.
The state law “unquestionably burdens the protected expression of companies wishing to engage in such a boycott,” said US District Court Judge Diane J. Humetewa.
25 States Ban BDS
25 US states have passed anti-BDS legislation in recent years.
Louisiana’s Governor John Bel Edwards was the lastest to do so when he issued an executive order in March prohibiting the state’s agencies from executing contracts with businesses involved in the anti-Israel BDS movement.
Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Michigan, Texas, Nevada, Kansas and Wisconsin have all passed bills fighting BDS.
The governors of all 50 US states have signed a declaration condemning the BDS movement as antithetical to American values.
The BDS movement promotes financial, academic and cultural boycotts of Israel, ostensibly as a nonviolent protest against the so-called “Israeli occupation.” Critics say its activities are a modern form of anti-Semitism and that its true objective is to destroy the State of Israel.
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