On Tuesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution that condemns human rights defenders who use boycotts to protest oppression. H.Res.246 sets a dangerous precedence meant to silence anyone who is fighting against the status quo, capitalism, and tyranny.
This resolution is an attack on all who champion social, economic and environmental justice.
Federal and state governments condemning and criminalizing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel set the stage for any racist and self-serving interest, including corporate and PAC lobbyists, to use these resolutions and laws to strip any individual from their right to speak out and take direct, nonviolent action against any injustice we are facing.
It’s not just the Palesitnian rights movement. We see examples of this dangerous trend popping up across the U.S. where lawmakers are pushing legislation that intends to criminalize movements organizing and resisting against the status quo.
Presently, we can find legislation that pushes criminal penalties for protesting on highways that have targeted the Movement for Black Lives; bills preventing protest at “critical infrastructure” sites that have targeted pipeline protestors, including Native American communities; and so-called “Campus Free Speech Bills” that have targeted student movements standing up against white supremacy.
Any lawmaker supporting H.Res.246, including so-called progressive democrats, are making all of us less safe and paving the road for more limits on our ability to speak out against any racial, social or environmental injustice.
Adalah Justice Project insists that Palestine is not the exception to progressive politics. In this case, Palestine and the overwhelming support in the House for H. Res. 246 is the warning bell of what is to come. Our right to dissent is under attack. What happens to Palestinian human rights defenders is what is coming for all of us in the United States who seek justice and a truly progressive vision of the world. Our coalitions to fight against anti-BDS legislation must be broader, more strategic and intersectional if we want to win.
We welcome a resolution upholding the right to boycott, H. Res 496, put forward by Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and Rep. John Lewis. Defense of free speech is helpful, but it is not enough. The conversation must always pivot back to why we protest and what we are fighting for. Centering Palestinian hopes for freedom, equality and justice is the way to win.
Sandra Tamari, Executive Director