Elizabeth Warren opposes Israel Anti-Boycott Act

Senator Elizabeth Warren has announced she opposes the Israel Anti-Boycott Act.

“I think the boycott is wrong, but I think outlawing protected free speech activity violates our basic constitutional rights,” Warren told constituents in Massachusetts on Friday.

Jewish Voice for Peace published this video of Warren’s statement:

After slamming the bill, Warren turned to Katherine Clark, a member of the US House of Representatives who shared the stage with her, and asked her “do you feel the same?”

When Clark apparently signaled assent, Warren said to the audience, “Good, we’ve got two of us here.”

Warren’s opposition to the bill comes after her fellow Democrat, New York’s Senator Kirsten Gillibrand pulled her sponsorship of the legislation last week.

The American Civil Liberties Union wrote to members of Congress last month urging them to oppose the bill, which it termed a “direct violation of the First Amendment.”

Draconian punishment

As first reported by The Electronic Intifada in April, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act is the most draconian of the dozens of bills introduced in state and federal legislatures in recent years in an attempt to curb the growth of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

The powerful Israel lobby group AIPAC has made the bill one of its top legislative priorities.

As Josh Ruebner of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights explains, “the bill would impose fines of up to $1 million and criminal penalties of up to 20 years in prison against any US person, including individuals, whose actions further a boycott of Israel or of Israeli settlement products called for by an international governmental organization.”

Ruebner adds: “It would even criminalize the requesting or furnishing of information about such a boycott. The bill would also deny government loans through the Export-Import Bank to firms that refuse to do business with corporations based in or operating out of Israeli settlements in occupied territory, which are illegal under international law.”

Challenge to Democrats

Despite her reputation as a firebrand progressive, Warren has never been courageous on the question of Palestinian rights. Nothing symbolized her fear better than when she was caught on video hurrying away from a question about Israel’s assault on Gaza three years ago that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians.

Warren, along with fellow progressive stalwart Bernie Sanders, joined every other member of the Senate in signing a letter in April reaffirming key lobby talking points that Israel is being unfairly picked on by efforts at the UN to hold it accountable.

Her opposition to BDS means she continues to stand against a nonviolent movement for equal rights by a people subjected to decades of Israeli occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid enabled largely by US military and political support.

But Warren’s willingness to oppose this bill reflects the ongoing challenge to Democratic Party leaders from a base that is far more supportive of Palestinian rights.

It also recalls a warning in a leaked report from prominent Israel lobby groups earlier this year that anti-BDS laws are raising concerns over violations of free speech, which may alienate potential supporters of Israel.

Other lawmakers are being challenged over their support of the bill too. As Mondoweiss reported on Monday, Ron Wyden, a Democratic senator from Oregon, was repeatedly challenged over his support for it at a townhall meeting in Portland on Saturday.

“Wyden, who has a reputation for supporting civil rights, got flustered by hecklers and questioners,” Mondoweiss observed.

The senator conceded that the impetus for the bill was the fact that “the boycott movement has grown.”

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Our politicians were so quick to accommodate the domination of the Israeli lobby they forgot about us Americans. The politicians who support this bill are paid to do so. I will be arrested before I stop supporting the anti-BDS movement. The more the US tries to stop us Christians &all others from saving Palestine, the more I donate.

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Senator Warren is preparing to run for the Presidency. She realizes that Hillary Clinton's effusive subservience to Israel cost votes in the primaries and in the general election of 2016, and that a significant portion of the public otherwise disposed to support her will not care to see a reiteration of that shameful, transparently corrupt position. So she's going to attempt a slightly more nuanced expression of her support for Israel. In doing so, she will court many of the same disaffected voters who flocked to the Sanders campaign (and failed to turn out for Clinton in November). In other words, the Senator's current defense of free speech derives from careful consideration of the likeliest path to the White House.

She opposes the boycott but won't say why. Although, unlike the pledge attributed to Voltaire, it doesn't appear that she's willing to fight to the death for our right to be wrong. Her despicable backing for Israel's massacres and other war crimes outweighs any value to be found in her opposition to this rotten bill.

Incidentally, we're now seeing anti-boycott legislation being introduced in Congress and lesser chambers across the U.S. which is not merely unconstitutional but in violation of existing statutes. Israel's violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention means that trade with her colonies is in itself a violation in law. Further to that, the complete integration of these colonies into the political and economic structures of Israel means that the entire state must be regarded as devoted to criminal undertakings and thus off-limits to international trade. From this perspective, BDS is the only lawful course.

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Tom: You say 'the Senator's defense of free speech derives from careful consideration of the likeliest path to the White House' and that Warren's 'despicable backing for Israel's massacres....outweighs any value to be found in her opposition to this rotten bill'. Whilst I tend to agree with your summing up of Warren on the Israel/Palestine issue at the personal level, the 'value' is the fact that she appears to be reacting to the changing zeitgeist. Not many successful politicians are brave enough to go out on a limb on an issue which, however important in itself, is not necessarily a game changer for most of the voting public. Surely the good news is that that the zeitgeist is changing, albeit slowly, within the US.

Most politicians are risk adverse and won't move too far ahead of the prevailing public opinion at any time. I don't see the political elite of the US ever reining in Israel, as they could easily do by withdrawing the purse strings, until they themselves start to pay a political price for their mindless support of Israel despite its intransigence. I suspect that if popular support for Israel continues to fall, if Zionism becomes toxic, Hillary herself will be first in line to promote democracy and human rights for Palestinians. If there is a vote in it..

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At least she recognizes the right to free speech even though she does not endorse or support for the BDS movement.BDS being one of the few sticks ,if you will , to stop/slow down the oppression .

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Is it contrary to the First Amendment to boycott Israeli goods?
I believe that the Senator meant that actively preventing others from buying what they choose is a violation of free Speech. I do not believe that it is a violation to avoid buying oneself what Israel is offering for sale.

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I cannot fathom any citizen of the United States sitting down and taking this without a fight! It is absolutely unconstitutional, as well as simply being unfair and unwise.
Why on earth more people don't know this stuff and protest against it is beyond me!

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Elizabeth Warren's opposition to the Anti-Israel Boycott Act, like Kirsten Gillibrand's, reminds me of a comment made by George Galloway a number of years ago--that the Israel Lobby is a Paper Tiger. And, the above is proof of that. As more and more people speak out, the Israel Lobby will commensurately weaken.
On another note, regarding "... fellow progressive stalwart...", Bernie Sanders, he is not, and never was, a progressive. He is the consummate self-promoter, con artist, and huckster. Mr. Sanders has voted for every war in the Middle East, excluding the last Iraq War; he has voted for every drone attack in the Middle East; he has voted for every yearly subsidy of Israel, now to the tune of 38 billion American dollars a year; he believes in Israel's right to exist; he is anti-BDS; and, he does not believe in a one-state solution to peace. A progressive he is certainly not!

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Warren chooses to stand up for the value of protecting free speech, but refuses to stand up for the human rights of Palestinians, placing more value on her fear of the Israel lobby AIPAC, and the NON-VIOLENT approach of BDS - even though for decades the US has demanded Palestinians renounce all violent resistance to Israel. E.W. has yet to win my recognition of her so-called 'progressive' politics.

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If you look at the actual bill, there is only a sub section that deals with individuals. She and the others are still supporting Israel. My US Congress has been bought. Recently, there was a letter signed by all senators sent to the UN that the UN was being unfair to Israel. Please don't listen to their words, only their actions. @DannyEThom qq

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My comments about the Israel and Palestinian conflict:
Israel has never been for peace. The good hearted Americans have bee duped and have become a hostage of the State of Israel.
It is like a person occupy your house and property, expel you from your home and property and kill your children and then tell you now let us negotiate.
In 1988, I was discussing this issue with one of my colleagues at the university. I asked him why not have Israel as one of your states. He said then Israel will have only two
senators not all of them.
We should not kid ourselves. The people of the world have known for too long the atrocities of the state of Israel with the support of the innocent American tax payers.
I was the Dean of the students in my college
In 1970 in Iran and I was telling a number of students about the greatness of American democracy and its compassionate people.
A 20 year old student asked me: how do you explain the unconditional support of America for Israel to occupy the Palestinian land and massacre these people.
To this fair question, I told him no body has an answer.
Let us not kid ourselves. If a 20 year old in distant part of the world in 1970 knows this problem, I assure you that the rest of the world knows where this problem lies.
No fair resolution will come to this problem
Until the American people wake up.
Let us not forget that none of our politicians in any party is going to challenge the power of the Israeli's lobby at their own political demise. We, the people need to know the truth and defend it and tell our politicians what we think.
I know that we, Americans have guilt feelings about the murder of million of the innocent Jewish people at the hands of the Nazi's but let us be aware of not enabling the Israeli government to brutalize the innocent Palestinians who were not responsible for our guilt feelings and the murder of millions of the Jewish people.

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