The following press release was issued by the The Freedom2Boycott in Virginia Coalition:
Freedom2Boycott in Virginia Thanks Senators for Tabling Bill Seeking to Suppress Boycotts Related to Israeli Human Rights Abuses; Urges Them to Reject Resolution Condemning BDS
March 1, 2016
The Freedom2Boycott in Virginia Coalition welcomes Monday’s unanimous decision of the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee to delay consideration of HB1282 until the 2017 legislative session, if at all. The bill would have wasted taxpayers money by requiring the Secretary of Commerce and Trade to spend valuable time and resources compiling information on boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns for Palestinian freedom and rights, and could have led to the development of an “enemies list” of potential government contractors to be blacklisted. Such a use of taxpayer funds serves no legitimate purpose for the people of the Commonwealth and is intended to have a chilling effect on Virginians who support Palestinian rights and BDS.
Saba Shami, Co-Chair of the Freedom2Boycott VA Coalition said, “We want to thank Senators from both parties for their bipartisan effort to protect our civil liberties and the right to engage in boycotts and other economic acts of conscience. Their vote is in the best tradition of our Commonwealth.”
BDS is a grassroots, Palestinian-led human rights movement for freedom, justice, and equality, based on universal principles and inspired by the U.S. Civil Rights and South African anti-apartheid movements. It seeks to attain Palestinians’ long-denied rights to freedom from Israel’s nearly 50-year-old military occupation, justice for Palestinian refugees dispossessed by Israel, and equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel who suffer from systemic discrimination in virtually every aspect of life.
HB1282 passed the House of Delegates with surprisingly strong opposition after Delegates heard from thousands of Virginians who are fed up with the status quo of unconditional US support for Israel and its violations of Palestinian rights, and support BDS as a peaceful tool for Palestinians seeking their freedom. That opposition grew when the bill came to the Senate resulting in the unanimous committee vote to drop consideration in this legislative session.
Now that HB1282 has been defeated for this year, the Freedom2Boycott VA Coalition will focus on defeating HJ177, a resolution that unfairly condemns BDS. We urge Senators to do the right thing once again and defeat HJ177.
For more information, see this op-ed written by Coalition members that was recently published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Freedom2Boycott-VA is a broad coalition of 12 organizations and thousands of Virginians who support BDS as the most effective way to protect Palestinian human rights and bring peace to Israel and Palestine. We are pro-peace, pro- equal rights and committed to work for a solution that ensures freedom and self-determination for all peoples of the region.