Trending Topics:

Congress is next battleground over boycott of Israel

on 69 Comments

Migrating from the halls of state power to the federal level, the backlash against the American Studies Association’s (ASA) decision to boycott Israel continues. Legislation against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement was introduced in the House of Representatives yesterday under this Orwellian name: the Protect Academic Freedom Act.  It seeks to bar federal funds from going to academic institutions that back the BDS movement.

The legislation, HR 4009 (PDF), was introduced by the co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, House Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D., Ill.)

The bill’s language applies a loose definition of academic institution.  It would bar federal funding from going to “any organization significantly funded by the institution” that backs the BDS movement.  But the vast majority of federal assistance in higher education goes to student loans–which would be exempted under this bill.  Academic institutions like the American Studies Association don’t receive any federal funding.  And no higher education institution has backed the boycott of Israel.

So it’s unclear what the tangible impact will be on universities.  Still, the net effect of a bill like this is to have a chilling effect on those who advocate boycotting Israel.  And leading First Amendment scholar Floyd Abrams criticized the effort as contrary to the Constitution.

“The notion that the power to fund colleges and their faculties may be transformed into a tool to punish them for engaging in constitutionally protected expression is contrary to any notion of academic freedom and to core First Amendment principles,” Abrams told BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray.

Dima Khalidi, the Director of Palestine Solidarity Legal Support and Cooperating Counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights, had a similar message in a statement e-mailed to us.  “This bill, like those proposed in the New York and Maryland state legislatures, is an outrageous assault on free speech…The bill violates the Constitution by denying funding to a university if any groups or individuals at that institution advocate for the academic boycott of Israel,” Khalidi said.  “It singles out and punishes only those boycotts that advocate for Palestinian rights. The First Amendment is clear: the government may not forbid controversial speech by students and academics based on its content or viewpoint.”

The federal anti-boycott bill was also slammed by the New York Times’ Carol Giacamo as “weaken[ing] America and its bedrock commitment to free speech and peaceful political dissent.”

Similar efforts to defund institutions that receive government funding have been struck down as unconstitutional.  For instance, in 1999, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani pulled funding from a city museum that displayed a portrait of the Virgin Mary sullied by elephant excrement.  A federal judge ruled that Giuliani’s move was unconstitutional and threatened the First Amendment.

Roskam issued a press release claiming that the legislation seeks to “combat bigotry” by shielding Israel from unjust boycotts.” His statement goes on a diatribe about how “ludicrous” it is to focus on Israel instead of going after Iran and North Korea. Sound familiar? Here’s more:

 Congress has a responsibility to fight back against these hateful campaigns, which contradict academic freedom and are designed to delegitimize the Jewish State of Israel. I’m so thankful for the wisdom and leadership of Ambassador Michael Oren, who has helped raise awareness for this important effort.

While Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., is backing the effort, it hasn’t garnered the support of major pro-Israel groups–at least not yet.  The Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman told BuzzFeed’s Gray that “we are not sure that this bill would be the most effective means of recourse.”  The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is reviewing the legislation.

It was Roskam who helped organize 134 members of the House of Representatives to sign a letter last month condemning ASA’s academic boycott of Israel as “blatant disregard for academic freedom” and “thinly-veiled bigotry and bias against the Jewish State.”  

ASA-logo-tiff-1-copyIn December 2013, the American Studies Association called for an academic boycott of Israel in response to the call from Palestinian civil society groups. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBIlaunched in 2004, calling on the international community to end cooperation with Israeli academic institutions due to their deep involvement in Israel’s system of control over Palestinians.

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

Other posts by .

Posted In:

69 Responses

  1. amigo on February 7, 2014, 2:16 pm

    “Congress has a responsibility to fight back against these hateful campaigns,”roskam

    No , Congress has a responsibility to the Citizens of the USA and not to a bunch of murdering land thieves and fascists in the rogue nation.

    • [email protected] on February 8, 2014, 12:18 am

      Are you sure? I thought AIPAC had purchased Congress in order to ensure that Congress’ first allegiance is to a foreign apartheid nation with the American people coming in as a distant second (or maybe even third, after Congress pays homage to guns).

    • Tom White on February 8, 2014, 6:49 am

      Amigo knows what’s up. It’s not even close to congress’ job to ‘fight back against these hateful campaigns.’ Anyone who believes congress should do ANYTHING about Israel’s ‘problems’–can go back home and write their own damn Constitution!

  2. Blownaway on February 7, 2014, 2:18 pm

    A law to boycott boycotters cause boycotts are bad…see it’s all about academic freedom unless we don’t like how you excersise your academic freedom

  3. James Canning on February 7, 2014, 2:38 pm

    Has anyone tried to count the number of aggressive Aipac stooges in the US congress? Getting Israel’s attention via sanctions surely is a good thing for Israel itself.

  4. Hostage on February 7, 2014, 2:50 pm

    So it’s unclear what the tangible impact will be on universities.

    None. The Secretary of Education can, and undoubtedly will, waive any theoretical funding restrictions. The Department doesn’t even have to report back to the Congress about those waiver decisions:

    ‘(c) WAIVER.—Not later than 30 days after receiving a notification under subsection (b)(2) that an institution of higher education has been identified as an institution participating in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions or scholars, such institution may request the Secretary to waive the restriction applicable to such institution under subsection (a). The Secretary may waive the restriction for such institution if the Secretary considers a waiver appropriate.

    • [email protected] on February 8, 2014, 12:21 am

      The bill isn’t meant to be enforceable. After all, it is unconstitutional. Rather, the bill is meant to have a chilling effect on those who might call-out Israel. It’s the legislative equivalent of calling anyone who dares to suggest that there is anything to criticize about Israel an anti-Semite.

    • Kathleen on February 8, 2014, 9:38 am

      So what if the Secretary of Education decides in mass not to “consider” waivers ?

      • Hostage on February 8, 2014, 11:03 am

        So what if the Secretary of Education decides in mass not to “consider” waivers ?

        The Executive branch isn’t going to enforce an unconstitutional law that will only result in a no-win situation and a Supreme Court legal battle against some of their own donors, establishment lawyers, and all of the major universities, e.g. See University of Cali rejects anti-Semitism resolution: State resolution calls on universities, colleges to combat anti-Semitism; University says it “violates First Amendment.”

        Even when unconstitutional legislation gets included in omnibus spending bills, they are still fair game for “Presidential Signing Statements”. Like the one authored by the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel on the Jerusalem Embassy Act. Each of the Departments, including Education, has its own Office of the General Counsel (OGC), headed by a General Counsel who is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate that can write a signing statement for Obama, e.g.

        To be honest, it’s hard enough sometimes to get the state and federal government officials to comply with their legitimate obligations, that’s why there have always been statutes like:
        28 U.S. Code § 1361 – Action to compel an officer of the United States to perform his duty

        42 U.S. Code § 1983 – Civil action for deprivation of rights (under state laws or US statutes pertaining strictly to D.C.)

        28 U.S. Code § 1331 – Federal question

      • Kathleen on February 9, 2014, 10:01 am


  5. American on February 7, 2014, 2:56 pm

    House Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D., Ill.) = anti American anti democracy traitors.
    BDS the sobs.

  6. tinywriting on February 7, 2014, 2:59 pm

    It’s unconstitutional on its face.

    • lysias on February 7, 2014, 4:08 pm

      Which does not necessarily mean that the Supreme Court will find it unconstitutional.

      • Citizen on February 7, 2014, 5:41 pm

        Both Tinywriting and Lysias are correct….

      • Hostage on February 7, 2014, 5:48 pm

        Which does not necessarily mean that the Supreme Court will find it unconstitutional.

        Probably not, because it’s propaganda disguised as legislation that doesn’t really affect any legal entities in actual practice. You’d need to have a petitioner whose constitutional rights have actually been violated to test the theory.

        I don’t think this will become law. But if it did, I believe the Supreme Court would probably find it unconstitutional on the basis of stare decisis. There are just too many cases which hold that discrimination against speech because of its message is presumed to be unconstitutional. It really doesn’t matter if it’s the Congress or the states trying to regulate political speech.

        1) Boycotts are not illegal per se. The Wagner Act (National Labor Relations Act) allows workers to strike, picket and boycott businesses with whom they are having disputes. Secondary boycotts can be subject to restrictions, e.g.

        2) NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. – 458 U.S. 886 (1982) held that non-violent political boycotts conducted by a 501(c)3 organization were protected by the First Amendment;

        3) Gary E. Widmar et al., Petitioners v. Clark Vincent et al. No. 80-689 held that With respect to persons entitled to be there, Supreme Court cases leave no doubt that the First Amendment rights of speech and association extend to the campuses of state universities. . . . The University’s exclusionary policy violates the fundamental principle that a state regulation of speech should be content-neutral. Through its policy of accommodating their meetings, the University has created a forum generally open for use by student groups. Having done so, the University has assumed an obligation to justify its discriminations and exclusions under applicable constitutional norms. The Constitution forbids a State to enforce certain exclusions from a forum generally open to the public, even if it was not required to create the forum in the first place.

        4) Ronald W. Rosenberger, et al., Petitioners v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, et al. 515 U.S. 819 (1995) held that denial of a funding privilege based upon content was unconstitutional: It is axiomatic that the government may not regulate speech based on its substantive content or the message it conveys. Other principles follow from this precept. In the realm of private speech or expression, government regulation may not favor one speaker over another. Discrimination against speech because of its message is presumed to be unconstitutional. These rules informed our determination that the government offends the First Amendment when it imposes financial burdens on certain speakers based on the content of their expression. When the government targets not subject matter, but particular views taken by speakers on a subject, the violation of the First Amendment is all the more blatant. Viewpoint discrimination is thus an egregious form of content discrimination. The government must abstain from regulating speech when the specific motivating ideology or the opinion or perspective of the speaker is the rationale for the restriction.

        The University tries to escape the consequences of our holding in Lamb’s Chapel by urging that this case involves the provision of funds rather than access to facilities. The University begins with the unremarkable proposition that the State must have substantial discretion in determining how to allocate scarce resources to accomplish its educational mission. The University argues that content-based funding decisions are both inevitable and lawful. Were the reasoning of Lamb’s Chapel to apply to funding decisions as well as to those involving access to facilities, it is urged, its holding “would become a judicial juggernaut, constitutionalizing the ubiquitous content-based decisions that schools, colleges, and other government entities routinely make in the allocation of public funds.”

        To this end the University relies on our assurance in Widmar v. Vincent, supra. There, in the course of striking down a public university’s exclusion of religious groups from use of school facilities made available to all other student groups, we stated: “Nor do we question the right of the University to make academic judgments as to how best to allocate scarce resources.” The quoted language in Widmar was but a proper recognition of the principle that when the State is the speaker, it may make content-based choices. When the University determines the content of the education it provides, it is the University speaking, and we have permitted the government to regulate the content of what is or is not expressed when it is the speaker or when it enlists private entities to convey its own message.

        It does not follow, however, and we did not suggest in Widmar, that viewpoint-based restrictions are proper when the University does not itself speak or subsidize transmittal of a message it favors but instead expends funds to encourage a diversity of views from private speakers. A holding that the University may not discriminate based on the viewpoint of private persons whose speech it facilitates does not restrict the University’s own speech, which is controlled by different principles.

        Based on the principles we have discussed, we hold that the regulation invoked to deny SAF support, both in its terms and in its application to these petitioners, is a denial of their right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment.

      • lysias on February 7, 2014, 5:52 pm

        I agree that the precedents would seem to dictate such a result. I’m just not too confident about how scrupulously the Roberts court will follow stare decisis.

      • Hostage on February 7, 2014, 7:08 pm

        I agree that the precedents would seem to dictate such a result. I’m just not too confident about how scrupulously the Roberts court will follow stare decisis.

        You’re missing the point. How would the Roberts Court stop a teachers union from boycotting their employers over their relationships and certifications of entities engaged in a joint criminal enterprise? You don’t even need to resort to the modern theory that customary international law is an integral part of federal common law or talk bullshit about torts. The war crimes act, 18 U.S. Code § 2441, made violation by a US citizen, whether inside or outside the United States, of either the customary/conventional laws contained in the Geneva Conventions and the Hague rules federal crimes that preempt state law.

        According to confidential records from the American consulate in Jerusalem, 45,000 settlers have American citizenship, or about 15 percent of the Israeli West Bank population living on illegally expropriated land. The last time I checked, pillage is a war crime under the federal statute and the Government of Israel was still advising that it isn’t responsible for human rights in the OPT, because the OPT isn’t part of its sovereign jurisdiction or territory. The Supreme Court of Israel ruled that several settlements were built on privately-owned Palestinian land and that the government can no longer be trusted to carry-out Court orders or to restore law and order.

        So, Article 28 of the Hague rules and Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention apply – and Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Sabbatino does NOT apply, i.e. “as a matter of federal law, courts may not examine the validity of a taking of property within its own territory by a foreign sovereign government, extant and recognized by this country at the time of suit, in the absence of a treaty or other unambiguous agreement regarding controlling legal principles, even if the complaint alleges that the taking violates customary international law.”

        The New York Supreme Court just decided a case the other day where it employed “The Rules of Land Warfare of the United States War Department 1940” in a ruling which held that pillage and the “spoils of war doctrine” is fundamentally unjust and cannot be accepted as grounds for a valid title to property. So why can’t a teachers union conduct a boycott until Ariel University, the American settlers in the West Bank, and the State of Israel agree to comply with conventional, customary, and US federal and state statutory and common laws and respect the human rights of Palestinians?

      • piotr on February 7, 2014, 8:33 pm

        I think that Supreme Court is the guardian of the chief myth of the American State, namely that this is a Constitutional Republic that follows the precepts of wise and venerable Founding Fathers. When it does matter, like killing bad folks by remote control or indefinite detention and torture those precepts can be circumnavigated, but when it does not matter, as in the case of the proposed law (presumably quite toothless), it makes a grand occasion for the Court to defend the Constitution.

        Which is a good thing, because this is the reason why such anti-democratic bills tend to be so feeble. I mean, it is good to have such a myth shared by the public and courts that uphold it — even with huge gaps.

      • tinywriting on February 7, 2014, 7:45 pm

        Right on, Hostage!

  7. American on February 7, 2014, 3:28 pm

    Oh, lets start the religous wars all over again too…..let just have a regular gang bang on the Israel and boycott question……the US congress, the Zionist, Judaism, the Christian Churches, Academica,—–the whole crowd. We could hold it at Madison Square Garden.

    Presbyterians Slammed for ‘Guide’ on Zionism
    Jewish Groups Attack Church for Anti-Semitic ‘Hate’
    By JTA
    Published February 07, 2014.
    Print Email Share A study guide on Zionism published by an arm of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is drawing expressions of outrage from Jewish groups.

    The guide is “worthy of a hate group, not a prominent American church,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for Jewish public policy groups.

    The study guide by the church’s Israel Palestine Mission Network is titled “Zionism Unsettled.” It posits that a “pathology inherent in Zionism” drives the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and rejects theologies that uphold Zionism.

    It also calls for an “expanded, inclusive” understanding of the Nazi genocide that would apply its lessons not just with respect to the persecution faced by Jews but also to the plight of the Palestinians, among others. The guide urges a “renunciation of the morally hazardous claims of a hierarchy of victimhood.”

    The Israel Palestine Mission Network advises the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) but does not necessarily speak for the church, according to mission network’s website.

    But the JCPA noted that the church funds and must approve the expenditures of the mission network. “As such it is impossible to separate the toxic actions of IPMN from the PCUSA without the kind of clarification from PCUSA officials that remains sorely missing,” Gutow said in the statement.

    The Simon Wiesenthal Center warned that the guide could result in Jews cutting off ties with the church.

    “If this book reflects the feelings of the PCUSA, the Simon Wiesenthal Center will divest all contacts from this institution and call on other Jewish organizations to do them same,” the center said in a statement.

    The American Jewish Committee called the guide “a devastating distortion of Jewish and Israeli history, aimed at nothing less than eradicating the State of Israel.”

    Read more:>>>>>>>>>>

    • James Canning on February 7, 2014, 6:39 pm

      I very much doubt that the Presbyterians want to see Israel “eradicated”. The notion is nonsense.

    • Hostage on February 7, 2014, 7:38 pm

      The guide is “worthy of a hate group, not a prominent American church,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the [unelected] umbrella body for Jewish public policy groups.

      It appears that some snobbish Jews firmly believe that they are God’s “chosen”, so equal rights for all = The New Anti-Semitism ® in Newspeak.

      • American on February 7, 2014, 8:45 pm

        Yea, its all a hysterical reaction to a call for simple human rights for Palestine and against the Isr occupation.
        I read the PCUSA statement, what was available on line and it wasnt an attack on Judiasm… that they react this way, conflating Isr with their religion just shows how far zionism has infiltrated some of these Rabbi’s synagogues.

      • puppies on February 7, 2014, 11:54 pm

        @American – “infiltrated”? What an optimist you are!
        The rule in every “Jewish” institutional facility, ie temple, community centers, associations etc., is Zionism as a religion. Not Judaism. They are not “conflating Isr with their religion”, “Israel” has been their man-eating Baal and Zionism their very religion for two generations and counting. Can you point to a single anti-Zionist “Jewish” place? Just one would be enough (apart from Neturei Karta.)

      • American on February 8, 2014, 12:33 pm

        @ puppies

        Since I am not Jewish and not an insider in that community I dont have any way other then what I see here and what I read re the Israel issue to know how wide spread it is—–I will say based on what I’ve seen that zionism/israel appears to be a ‘big’ problem within US Judaism.

      • James Canning on February 8, 2014, 2:28 pm

        Conflating Zionist-expansionism with Judaism is deceptive but of course intentional.

      • American on February 9, 2014, 7:44 pm

        They cant stop themselves……

        Government backs bill requiring schools to teach that Israel is the Jewish nation-state

        “Ohayon, the bill’s lead advocate, said Israeli youth must be taught that the State of Israel “belongs to the Jewish people only. All citizens will have equal rights, but the state is the state of the Jewish people.””

        “An MK who opposes the legislation told Haaretz: “This is an unnecessary bill that will only escalate the confrontation with Israel’s different minorities. Does the government really want to strengthen the state’s Jewish values in Israeli Arab educational institutions? Does it want to declare this intention before the world? The ministerial committee would do well to quash this bill before it comes to a vote in the Knesset.””

      • James Canning on February 10, 2014, 6:57 pm

        Thanks, American. Very interesting, of course. But one might argue that a Zionist willing to confine his Zionism to Israel within its pre-1967 borders, is less a problem that fanatical Zionists wanting to keep most of the West Bank permanently.

    • piotr on February 7, 2014, 8:38 pm

      Leftists, libertarians, paleocons, paleo-Antisemites, and now Presbyterians? It reads like the last century of Western Roman Empire, when the imperial borders were crossed by Vandals, Burgundians, Goths, Alemans, Huns, Saxons etc. with no end in sight.

      • American on February 7, 2014, 9:33 pm

        I think when they said they wanted to return to their homeland they really meant they wanted to return to 70 CE….refight the Romans, the Assyrians , the Greeks, the Persians ..they are in a time warp.

    • RoHa on February 7, 2014, 11:46 pm

      “the guide could result in Jews cutting off ties with the church.”

      Oh my! What will the Presbyterians do without the Jews to prop them up? Perhaps they can get help from Cao Dai or the Wiccans.

  8. BrianEsker on February 7, 2014, 3:33 pm

    Let’s see….The States of New York, Maryland and now Illinois have legislated withdrawing funding from BDS-connected instututions, plus some 200 universities have condemned the A.S.A.’s motion, and all the major Ivy League universities have withdrawn their memberships in response to this Israel boycott stunt.

    It’s only just increased awareness about how harsh and ill-conceived this nonsense is.

    I suppose that’s an indication of overwhelming success. NOT.


    • Hostage on February 7, 2014, 7:45 pm

      Let’s see….The States of New York, Maryland and now Illinois have legislated withdrawing funding from BDS-connected instututions,

      Clarification: The two Illinois lawmakers are US Congress critters. There doesn’t appear to be anything going on in the Illinois state legislature.

    • [email protected] on February 8, 2014, 12:26 am

      Agreed–the more American legislators try to impose the draconian suppression of speech calling out inequality in Israel, the worse the pro-Israel side looks in the US. If they zealous Zionists keep going, they might eventually catch the attention of the apathetic American public that may not think about Israel too much, but might react to the assault on the 1st Amendment.

  9. Scott on February 7, 2014, 5:02 pm

    Good for Floyd Abrams. He’s a real Zionist, and I’m sure he despises BDS. So for him to make the necessary First Amendment points is truly welcome.

  10. bilal a on February 7, 2014, 8:26 pm

    I wonder if Bill Kristol Dr Fantastico is advising Congress:

  11. Robert767 on February 7, 2014, 10:30 pm

    Personally I welcome moves such as this the ever more shrill and bizarre attempts to counter growing international condemnation of Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing project in Palestine. Paradoxically these desperate efforts-always attended by the shrieked smear anti Semite anti Semite heighten the awareness of the truth about Zionism and the grim reality of life with the Israeli boot on the necks of 7 million Palestinians.

    • Hostage on February 8, 2014, 6:40 am

      Personally I welcome moves such as this the ever more shrill and bizarre attempts to counter growing international condemnation of Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing project in Palestine.

      I agree. Unlike like the Montgomery Bus Boycott, none of these proposed statutes will result in anyone going to jail. They might result in some trials in which government documents regarding illegal discrimination and the illegal settlements are part of discovery in a trial on merits. After all, paragraph 4 of the New York Senate bill says that it does not apply to political boycotts against unlawful forms of discrimination. I think the fact that citizens of New York are living on land in the West Bank that was pillaged from Palestinians and that even the Israeli Supreme Court admits it can’t trust the government to remedy a war crime happens to be relevant.

  12. Denis on February 7, 2014, 11:28 pm

    Yes, I like the sound of this. If AIPAC backs this loser bill, it would be another nail in AIPAC’s coffin, which is filling up with nails. If it fails to back it, it would still be another nail in its coffin.

    There is another First Amendment issue with respect to GoI, but it never gets any mention so far as I have seen – that’s the separation of religion and government. Taxpayers’ money – and that includes local taxpayers and local taxes – cannot be used by any government at any level to promote any religion or any religious practice or ritual. And that makes sense to me, not that I’m a big Jefferson fan.

    So how does the USG give $3Bn/yr in financial succor to the Jewish Homeland without supporting Judaism, and, hence, violating the 1st Amend? And that doesn’t include the interest Americans pay on their own money until GoI accesses it.

    I don’t see how, under the 1st Amend., the USG can support any Muslim state, either. If a country commits to being a religious state, then that should make it constitutionally disqualified from receiving US taxpayers’ money.

    US taxpayers should not be bilked out of their tax money in order to support other countries’ religions. Does the USG support Rome? God, I hope not . . . I would throw a 1st Amendment hissy-fit.

    • Hostage on February 8, 2014, 11:38 am

      There is another First Amendment issue with respect to GoI, but it never gets any mention so far as I have seen – that’s the separation of religion and government. Taxpayers’ money – and that includes local taxpayers and local taxes – cannot be used by any government at any level to promote any religion or any religious practice or ritual. And that makes sense to me, not that I’m a big Jefferson fan.

      I’ve commented in the past that the First Amendment was one of the factors against using US armed forces to establish a Jewish state over the objections of the Palestinian people, i.e. “We could not undertake to impose this solution on the people of Palestine by the use of American troops, both on Charter grounds and as a matter of national policy.” — Statement by President Truman, March 25, 1948,

      • Denis on February 8, 2014, 6:03 pm

        That is a very interesting thought, although I read Harry’s statement as not so much a constitutional statement but as saying we’re not pouring US blood down the Palestine privy. I wonder whether there were any contemporaneous establishment of religion arguments by Harry or anyone else against using US force to support GoI. That would be fascinating.

        I had a friend who was in the British forces in Palestine, and — whew! — you talk about someone who hated Zionists. If Harry had sent US soldiers to Palestine when the UK pulled out, and if Begin and Sharon had butchered them the way they butchered the English lads, we wouldn’t have an Israel problem today. Probably wouldn’t have an Israel. Certainly not an AIPAC. Harry’s “ziophilia” had its limits.

        SQ raises the issue of standing to file a 1st Amend suit to challenge US aid to the Jewish homeland. I would think any US taxpayer or association of taxpayers would have standing to seek a declaratory judgment in USDC that the 1st Amendment prohibits US tax money from being used to support any religious state government anywhere in the world.

      • Hostage on February 9, 2014, 7:42 am

        That is a very interesting thought, although I read Harry’s statement as not so much a constitutional statement but as saying we’re not pouring US blood down the Palestine privy.

        No, the State and Defense working groups had raised the issue of the First Amendment and the constitutional conflict that would result if the Security Council called for the use of US armed forces to help establish a Jewish State.

        The times have certainly changed. The Congress has adopted dozens of laws which discriminate against the non-Jewish citizens of Israel, e.g.

        22 U.S. Code § 8602 – Statement of policy

        It is the policy of the United States:
        (1) To reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish state.
        As President Barack Obama stated on December 16, 2011, “America’s commitment and my commitment to Israel and Israel’s security is unshakeable.” And as President George W. Bush stated before the Israeli Knesset on May 15, 2008, on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, “The alliance between our governments is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty.”.
        (2) To help the Government of Israel preserve its qualitative military edge amid rapid and uncertain regional political transformation.
        (3) To veto any one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations Security Council.
        (4) To support Israel’s inherent right to self-defense.
        (5) To pursue avenues to expand cooperation with the Government of Israel both in defense and across the spectrum of civilian sectors, including high technology, agriculture, medicine, health, pharmaceuticals, and energy.
        (6) To assist the Government of Israel with its ongoing efforts to forge a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two states living side-by-side in peace and security, and to encourage Israel’s neighbors to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
        (7) To encourage further development of advanced technology programs between the United States and Israel given current trends and instability in the region.

        It’s okay to piss away $3 billion a year in efforts to openly establish a Jewish state in Palestine against the wishes of the inhabitants, but God help you if you suggest a parochial school voucher program too, that might violate the same establishment clause (academic freedom be damned).

    • SQ Debris on February 8, 2014, 2:33 pm

      You don’t have to go to the constitution to find U.S. policy, vis a vis Israel, in violation of U.S./federal law. The Foreign Assistant act bars funding to any government that “engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” That’s not too complicated. The fact that our number one aid recipient is a KTM specialist hasn’t served as cause for a single congressional hearing, let alone litigation. Time for a taxpayer class action suit to recover the dollars that have been sent to the Ted Bundy of nation states. There’s got to be a way to get “standing” in the courts for something like that.

  13. kalithea on February 7, 2014, 11:36 pm

    Do you really any of you believe the law and freedom has any precedence over Zionism? Throw out the law books and the Constitution cause Zionism is above those laws. Don’t you get it yet? Zionism is about much more than merely a homeland for the Jewish people. Zionism is all about POWER. If the Palestinian cause has taught you anything it should be this. We have already all in some way been victims of Zionism’s abuse of power, whether it be through censorship with the anti-Semitism card, bullying by Zionist trolls, and for those who had the guts to protest before the agents of Zionism spewing propaganda in universities or government, getting forcibly removed or sanctioned for doing so. This draconian measure to sabotage the BDS movement and muzzle criticism of the Jewish state is just another demonstration of Zionism’s reach. Zionism is an unspoken word in the mainstream for God’s sake! That’s how protected it is! The system has been rigged in favor of Zionism. And who do you think is responsible for doing so? The same community of people who are denying Palestinians justice by neglecting to do what is morally right for decades.

    As I stated before: God help the Palestinians. Their fate is in the hands of a community that muzzles with their “anti-Semitism” card the rest of us who are fed up with witnessing Palestinians suffering for decades. The quickest way to get someone to despise you is to trample their freedom. Then this community will scream: See, there is a rise in Anti-Semitism; we need Zionism to protect us! The Palestinians will never be free and quit fooling yourselves – NEITHER ARE WE.

  14. kalithea on February 8, 2014, 12:08 am

    One more thought: If Zionists are willing to eat their own who manage to free themselves from tribal mentality and dare to speak out against the injustice caused by Zionism, imagine what they’ll do to the rest of us if we try to shatter their illusion by putting an end to what Zionism has wrought – APARTHEID.

  15. Citizen on February 8, 2014, 12:53 am

    “And the times, they are a’changin'”

    The first conference of its kind in the whole world will be coming next Fall:

    Conference On International Law & The Legality Of The Creation & Nature Of The State of Israel Itself @ law school of U of Southampton, UK

    Those around the world who wish to turn in papers and/or appearances need to act by this April.

    • Ellen on February 8, 2014, 11:07 am

      Amazing that this conference to explore and debate these questions is being held at all. Things are changing very fast. (At first I thought the call for papers could even be a hoax.)

      How will the thought police attack this and put an end to it ?

      • Hostage on February 8, 2014, 1:24 pm

        How will the thought police attack this and put an end to it ?

        The usual superficial propaganda about 1) anti-Semites granting other peoples the right of self-determination, while denying the same to “the Jewish people”; and 2) the refusal to recognize “the right of the State of Israel to exist”.

        The problem for Zionists has always been to conceal what they actually intend to do. In the beginning their movement claimed that Gentiles suffered from an incurable hereditary mental disease; that Jewish could not live a normal well adjusted life among Gentiles; and that Jews therefore needed a state and territory of their own. When they targeted Palestine, they had to claim that Herzl’s Der Judenstat was just a pamphlet, and that it wasn’t part of the Basel Program to establish Jewish rule over Palestinians. They continued to make the same insincere claims, while displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, and reserving the right to replace them with European Jews and Jews from Arab countries who had expressed an interest in moving to Palestine.

        There really aren’t any other examples where anyone makes a similar claim. No one contends that the international community has the right to grant an extraterritorial racial separatist political movement recognition as “a people” with the intent to authorize the colonization of an inhabited territory and the eviction of its inhabitants in the exercise of an exclusive right to self-determination. States only have the right to exist when they comply with certain modern democratic norms and abide by international law. The United Nations did not recognize the right of the now defunct Union of South Africa or Southern Rhodesia to exist under similar circumstances. Why wasn’t a resolution like this one adopted after the unilateral declaration of the Jewish State of Israel?:

        Resolution 216 (1965) of 12 November 1965

        The Security Council
        1. Decides to condemn the unilateral declaration of independence made by a racist minority in Southern Rhodesia;
        2. Decides to call upon all States not to recognize this illegal racist minority regime in Southern Rhodesia and to refrain from rendering any assistance to this illegal regime.

        Adopted at the 1258th meeting
        by 10 votes to none, with 1 abstention

  16. dbroncos on February 8, 2014, 1:25 am

    If this measure won’t have any teeth and no chance of succeeding in court I say give em more rope, as much as they want. I hope they continue to make a mockery of our Constitution. Say it louder! This could be the best thing that’s happened yet to bring the public’s attention to BDS.

    • Kathleen on February 8, 2014, 9:43 am

      Interesting points

    • Hostage on February 8, 2014, 10:01 am

      If this measure won’t have any teeth and no chance of succeeding in court I say give em more rope, as much as they want.

      Even if they do introduce laws with teeth, they will only spark civil disobedience in the face of occupation/annexation, expanded settlement, and continued denial of either independence and freedom or incorporation, equal civil rights and the right to vote in Israeli elections. That will backfire on them quicker with university students, scholars, and opinion makers than largely symbolic legislation.

    • American on February 8, 2014, 4:16 pm

      I agree…give them miles and miles of rope….let them really show themselves.

  17. Sherri Munnerlyn on February 8, 2014, 6:12 am

    The fact BDS is being so widely discussed by American MSM right now is itself a BDS success story. Just getting BDS where it is right now evidences a meaningful shift in the future of this movement. I keep reading these phrases, tipping point, BDS mainstream, in article after article. Now, we just have to keep being creative and creatively growing this BDS Movement. Remember Apartheid in South Africa was defeated by popular resistance + BDS. I think the BDS side of it is what soundly puts out there the human nature of all of these egregious human rights abuses and clear violations of international law. I was just reading a heartbreaking article of children with terminal illnesses dying in Gaza, living under siege. Just getting people outside there to help them is a struggle, and the Occupation isolates the people in Gaza and seeks to prevent their stories from being told.

  18. Tom White on February 8, 2014, 6:37 am

    See also, ‘H.R. 3830: Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014’. This Bill enables any member of congress to enter into international trade agreements. It also requires the President to get congressional approval before entering into any international trade agreement. gives it a 75% chance of being enacted into law.
    With all the cronies that Israel has by the string in congress, this Bill appears to me to be their answer to the effects of BDS. If they can’t sell their stuff in Europe, they’ll just force it onto the American people. Thanks, but no thanks Israel.

    • Denis on February 8, 2014, 5:23 pm

      Tom, whoa — that HR 3830 baby sure expands Congress’ role in trade negotiations, but I don’t agree with your reading when you say: “This Bill enables any member of congress to enter into international trade agreements.”

      I think what you are referring to are two provisions that force the president to “accredit” so-called “designated congressional advisers” and “designated congressional advisory groups” as official advisers to trade meetings. As per example Section 4(b)(3):

      Accreditation.–Each Member of Congress designated as a congressional adviser under paragraph (1) shall be accredited by the United States Trade Representative on behalf of the President as an official adviser to the United States delegations to international conferences, meetings, and negotiating sessions relating to trade agreements.

      IOW, the House wants its own members at the trade negotiations. But that does not allow any member of Congress to “enter into trade agreements.” I’m not sure where you’re reading that part; maybe I missed it. If so, please sort me out.

      A trade agreement is a treaty. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution reserves to the president the right to make treaties, with the advice and consent of the Senate.

      The bill seems to be an attempt to inject the House into the constitutional oversight role w/ respect to trade treaties. Can’t believe the Senate would buy it. Can’t believe any president would sign off on it. Can’t believe any USSCt would sanction it. Actually . . . I can’t believe Camp, Sessions, and Nunes wasted their time on this ante-statutory stool-sample.

      For those with time to waste, it’s here:

  19. Kathleen on February 8, 2014, 9:42 am

    Roskam goes on and on about how the American tax payer does not have to pay for such institutions that would support such a boycott. Goes on and on about the taxpayers. Fails to mention that American taxpayers most unknowingly are supporting the apartheid state of Israel which has and continues to undermine U.S. national security

  20. bangpound on February 8, 2014, 10:11 am

    Isn’t it odd that Rosie Gray allowed the Israel lobby to be on the record saying the bill wasn’t their idea and they think it’s a bad one but she totally ignored the statements from Roskam citing Michael Oren as inspiration?

    • James Canning on February 8, 2014, 2:05 pm

      Good point.

    • annie on February 8, 2014, 3:02 pm

      Isn’t it odd that Rosie Gray allowed the Israel lobby to be on the record saying the bill wasn’t their idea

      reminds me when they announced the same thing about hagel.

      An informed source tells me that during a hotly debated recent conference call that included top AIPAC lay leaders, the organization decided not to aggressively challenge Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be secretary of defense. The justification: AIPAC’s long-standing tradition of not involving itself in confirmation battles.

      ah huh.

      and who could forget The Israel Lobby and Hagel |

      Jeff Goldberg has an interesting post about the mixed feelings that the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) may have about launching a major lobbying campaign against Chuck Hagel.

      He may be right–and it would be wonderful if true–but I know that AIPAC has been quietly working the phones, arguing against the nomination. There is a difference between that and a full-bore lobbying campaign, but AIPAC’s pro-Netanyahu posture has always been clear. (Update: Eli Lake, who knows this territory well, is also reporting that AIPAC will stand down.)

      so the troops all came out in full regalia to announce aipac would not be getting involved. klein didn’t fall for it tho, neither should we.

      and then, until obama begged them to plead his case to invade syria, weren’t they on record as not pushing for that too, all the while pushing for a strike?

      • American on February 8, 2014, 4:20 pm

        It all bullshit…first they brag they did, then they say they didnt.
        And all their minons and little true believers have absolutely no shame–its like they dont even have brains—wind up brainless dolls.

      • Hostage on February 8, 2014, 8:03 pm

        Isn’t it odd that Rosie Gray allowed the Israel lobby to be on the record saying the bill wasn’t their idea

        LOL! Maybe Abe just doesn’t want to get a reputation for being a (slow dim-witted) friend of the Court. The ADL routinely files amicus briefs in Supreme Court cases, like M.B.Z. v. Clinton.

        The ADL & friends were officially on the wrong side of the First Amendment and the question of state content-restrictions in university forums when they filed their amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the landmark Widmar v. Vincent case.

        So it would probably not reflect very well on their intelligence if they backed legislation that runs afoul of the central holding in a Supreme Court First Amendment case that they asked leave to comment on.

        Re: “These organizations are clearly free to do what they want to do under the First Amendment,” Roskam said on the House floor on Tuesday, “but the American taxpayer doesn’t have to subsidize it.”

        But there are civil rights statutes that enjoin states from withholding “privileges” and there have been Supreme Court cases on precisely that point, e.g. 42 U.S. Code § 1983 – Civil action for deprivation of rights

        If the state chooses to subsidize membership fees and travel expenses for other professional organizations, it can’t withhold funding from others based upon speech content-restrictions:

        Ronald W. Rosenberger, a University of Virginia student, asked the University for $5,800 from a student activities fund to subsidize the publishing costs of Wide Awake: A Christian Perspective at the University of Virginia. The University refused to provide funding for the publication solely because it “primarily promotes or manifests a particular belief in or about a diety or an ultimate reality,” as prohibited by University guidelines.

        Did the University of Virginia violate the First Amendment rights of its Christian magazine staff by denying them the same funding resources that it made available to secular student-run magazines?

        Yes. The Court, in a 5-to-4 opinion, held that the University’s denial of funding to Rosenberger, due to the content of his message, imposed a financial burden on his speech and amounted to viewpoint discrimination. The Court noted that no matter how scarce University publication funding may be, if it chooses to promote speech at all, it must promote all forms of it equally.


        The letter the other day (that now has signatures from 100 Colombia University Professors) explained that:

        A key component of academic life is membership in professional organizations, such as the ASA. Indeed it is the exceptional faculty member who is not a member of one or more professional organizations. Membership in professional academic organizations, attendance at annual meetings, and participation in committee work provide important opportunities for professional development, intellectual exchange, and the evolution of knowledge in the field. Columbia University, in keeping with our peers, supports faculty research and professional development by reimbursing faculty for the costs of membership in relevant professional organizations, and covers the reasonable costs of travel to official meetings of those organizations.

        Eugene Volokh is not citing cases, where despite the First Amendment, the government has ordered citizens not to discriminate against foreign institutions located on land pillaged in violation of the laws of war and the United States or to have dealings with a government after its own Courts have ruled that the settlements are located on land stolen from private Palestinian owners and that the Government can no longer be trusted to carry-out court orders aimed at restoring the property and law and order.
        See Israel’s High Court: government cannot be trusted: Justices give government six months to implement promise to vacate illegal settlements after endless delays, November 19th 2013

        The Government of Israel revealed that it has kept classified records which prove that it was aware that 32.4 percent of the property held by Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are situated illegally on private Palestinian land pillaged from the rightful owners.
        See Steven Erlanger, West Bank Sites on Private Land, Data Shows

        According to confidential records from the American consulate in Jerusalem, our government is aware of the fact that 45,000 illegal settlers have American citizenship, or about 15 percent of the Israeli West Bank population.
        City on a hilltop: The participation of Jewish-American immigrants within the Israeli settler movement, 1967–1987
        by Hirschhorn, Sara Yael, Ph.D., THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, 2012 and

      • Citizen on February 9, 2014, 11:42 am

        AIPAC is not hard to see; it officially backs anything Likud Israel wants unless it risks a pubic debate about US versus Israel’s national security/defense. If it does so, e.g., re the bill to increase sanctions on Iran during current negotiations (which it wrote & handed to picked AIPAC drones in Congress to push) in light of POTUS bring up that very issue in public, then it says nothing officially, but keeps pushing for its agenda behind close doors (in this case provoking Iran to leave the negotiations, anything to get US to go to war with Iran).

      • James Canning on February 9, 2014, 6:54 pm

        Some Aipac stooges in US Congress do seem to want a US war with Iran. Others may just trying to block any improvement in America’s relations with Iran, no matter how dangerous to US national interests.

  21. anthonybellchambers on February 8, 2014, 4:18 pm

    Is the lobby that represents just 0.03% of Americans responsible for the virtual collapse of the Obama presidency?

    America is the world’s only superpower: a federation of states that is administered by a democratic president through an elected Congress.

    However, an unelected lobby with a claimed membership of just 100,000 out of a population of over 300 million is said to have gained an undue influence within Congress, and the power of democratic government is alleged to have been usurped as a result.

    The president now appears an irrelevant and impotent figure, barred from carrying out the duties for which he was popularly elected by majority vote. This has led to a travesty of democracy which is already giving rise to major political and economic repercussions around the world.

    1. AIPAC, the American Israel lobby, is reported to be the most powerful foreign policy pressure group in the United States. It is unelected, privately funded and its agenda is to gain legislative advantage from Congress to benefit its foreign agenda.

    2. AIPAC has a vetting program that investigates the voting record as well as the personal life of every applicant for the House of Representatives and the Senate, in addition to that of every sitting member of Congress. Any candidate or any incumbent who does not explicitly adopt the AIPAC agenda, is unlikely to win, or retain, a nominated seat.

    3. AIPAC is alleged to have an unwarranted influence over the legislature, the White House and the Presidency, which negates the fundamental principles of democracy by using lobbying as a means of government that distorts the will of the majority.

    4. AIPAC has succeeded in securing $3.1 billion in American aid for Israel in the fiscal year, paid for by US tax dollars. Plus an estimated $3 billion in loan guarantees. That equates to $20 p.a. from every American in order to give a notional individual benefit of $1000 a year to six million Israeli citizens.

    5. AIPAC has been instrumental in framing the public debate over Iran’s nuclear POWER program so as to meet the political demands of its client state that holds the world’s only undeclared nuclear WEAPONS arsenal estimated to conceal up to 400 warheads, all outside the remit of the IAEA.

  22. traintosiberia on February 9, 2014, 2:58 am

    Everyday,the Pollard case is gathering also more momentum from the higher ups sabotaging and making end run around what US citizen prefer .
    Woosley joins other Israeli figures in denouncing the continued imprisonment as example of anti semitism.

    • James Canning on February 9, 2014, 2:36 pm

      What complete cr*p from Woolsey. Casper Weinberger said Pollard should have been shot.

      • traintosiberia on February 9, 2014, 3:15 pm

        This is emblematic of a calculated decades old phenomenon. Get an outsider, out side the tribal loop to advance tribal agenda ,then claim of the existence of the support from a wide variety irrespective of any DNA match in the persuasion bordering on crime and treason. It does not hurt to forget that he sang same psalms out of Sharon.’s manifest on Iraq and is still singing on Iran. In reality the memory loss of the existence of that dirt under the carpet helps the tribe in hiding the rich tapestry woven around Pollard, Iraq,Iran,Syria,and Egypt . The beneficiary shill shows up while least expected to carry the can to be remembered as righteous gentile.!

      • James Canning on February 9, 2014, 6:35 pm

        Clever PR indeed, and of course insidious.

Leave a Reply