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Video: Senator Chris Van Hollen announces opposition to Israel Anti-Boycott Act

on 7 Comments

On September 28, 2017 Maryland’s junior Senator Chris Van Hollen (D) held a discussion with Professor Shibley Telhami at University of Maryland’s Hoff Theater in College Park, MD.

After the discussion with Professor Telhami, questions were taken from the audience. One audience-member asked Senator Van Hollen if he supported Senator Ben Cardin’s Israel Anti-Boycott Act which could jail boycotters of Israel for up to 20 years.

Van Hollen stated very clearly that he did not:

“With respect to the legislation that you referenced, I think the ACLU has raised some really important points about this and my interpretation of that legislation is that it does things that the sponsors say were not unintended in terms of the bill. Because I don’t think any American for example should be threatened with fines or imprisonment for expressing their views in the form of participating in economic actions with respect to Israel. So I certainly do not support that bill, certainly not in its current form.”

Watch Senator Van Hollen’s statement:

This statement is a big deal. It’s very unusual for Maryland’s Democratic Senators to openly oppose each others’ legislation like this. Senator Van Hollen indicated that he agreed with ACLU’s assessment of what the bill does. And he said that he “certainly does not support that bill”. Van Hollen is known to be a cautious and thoughtful insider, not a hyperbolic bomb-thrower. His statement could give other legislators on the fence cover to also oppose the bill.

Saqib Ali

Saqib Ali is a member of Freedom2Boycott in Maryland. For more information visit

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7 Responses

  1. Citizen on October 3, 2017, 1:33 pm

    Brave Senator.

    • smithgp on October 4, 2017, 10:24 am

      Not all that brave. See jsinton’s comment below. All senatorial opposition has been on First Amendment grounds. Not one is willing to step on AIPAC’s tender toes. “Liberal” senators such as Elizabeth Warren make clear that they’re totally opposed to boycott of Israel.

  2. MalcolmLeftly on October 3, 2017, 2:17 pm

    I don’t think you are going to hear any flat ‘no’s’ in answer to the question.
    Van Hollen is about as close as you are going to get. I haven’t heard any Republicans
    asked yet. Now that… should be interesting?

  3. jsinton on October 3, 2017, 10:24 pm

    I will never forget some 30 years ago or so, when the new congressman Van Hollen said something mildly supportive of the Palestinians, and was quickly beaten down by the lobby, and was forced to retract it the next day. That’s was a major turning point for me.

  4. JosephA on October 3, 2017, 10:50 pm

    Let this become law. I can’t wait! Then, let it get challenged in a court of law! Sunlight is the best disinfectant for this garbage.

    • genesto on October 4, 2017, 1:04 pm

      Something to be said for that. A part of me was/is hoping this proposed legislation makes it to the Senate floor for open debate. As you say, sunlight is the best disinfectant. We should welcome any and all forums for bringing attention to the issue of Palestinian justice.

      Zionists try to avoid open discussions and debates at all costs for the simple reason that they cannot win such challenges.

  5. Misterioso on October 4, 2017, 2:10 pm

    Slowly, but surely, the winds are shifting and not in Israel’s favor.

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