illegal protest Israel

Democratic Senators Support a Law Making It Illegal to Protest Against Israel

Israel is known for accepting LGBTQ people more than its Middle Eastern neighbors, but it’s not perfect: It doesn’t offer legalized same-sex marriages, it has a homophobic adoption system and it has long been accused of using its LGBTQ rights record to “pinkwash” its human rights abuses against LGBTQ Palestinians. But queer activists who protest the country over its problematic LGBTQ rights record could soon find themselves in prison if legislators pass a proposed bipartisan bill to make boycotting Israel a felony.

According to The Intercept, a group of 43 senators — 14 Democrats and 29 Republicans — wants to pass Senate Bill 720 (aka. the Israel Anti-Boycott Act), a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support an international boycott against Israel. The bill would punish the offense with “a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.”

The background of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act

The bill is specifically meant to target the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, an ongoing international campaign that seeks to economically pressure Israel to end its establishment of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and grant Arab-Palestinian citizens full equality.

Some U.S. state legislators (and French President Emmanuel Macron) have accused the BDS movement of anti-semitism and have passed legislation that penalizes companies supporting it.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would expand ’70s-era laws that made it illegal to participate in boycotts of Israel sponsored by foreign governments by including boycotts sponsored by international organizations.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency says that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) helped draft the bill, and identified its passage as one of AIPAC’s top lobbying agenda items in 2017.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has called the law “antithetical to free speech” and “in direct violation of the First Amendment” in an open letter urging lawmakers to vote against it.


  • Dean Sprague

    This is either an intentionally deceptive article, or the author couldn’t even be bothered to do basic homework like reading the bill.

    The alarmism at the beginning about this being used to silence and imprison queer activists was a nice touch, very dramatic. It’s also a blatant fabrication, unless those queer activists are also international businesspeople, which is who is specifically addressed in the bill. The bill is pretty short, recommend you read it. This specifically prevents people doing international trade from attempting to economically harm a US ally. I know you all like to imagine that you’re important enough for Big Brother to care, but you’re not getting sent to the gulag because you refused to buy a SodaStream or posted an Al Jazeera article to your Facebook wall. That’s literally not what this bill says at all.

    Second, AIPAC is not a scary boogeyman whose mere mention equates to murdering babies. AIPAC officially supports a two-state solution and many people involved with it are critical of settlements, yet it is obvious that most people have a very warped view of them and their mission, a view they accept blindly and uncritically because it is so easy for people to swallow “evil, conniving, string-pulling Jews” as a narrative.

    Third, “Arab-Palestinian citizens?” No such thing. There are Arab-Israeli citizens, and they have the same rights as any other Israeli citizen. Palestinians are not citizens of Israel. That’s the whole point. They want their own state, they don’t want to BE citizens of Israel. Israel should give them full citizenship and also stay completely out of their affairs? What do you want?

    This bill does not in any way prevent people from protesting Israeli policies or personally boycotting Israeli goods. It also does not restrict activism in forms other than BDS, which has been proven over and over to be a horribly antisemitic movement from its founders to its mission, which is a complete destruction of the state of Israel and removal of all the Jews who live there (about half of the world’s population). You can continue to wave your signs and put stickers on hummus and get a bunch of sheltered middle class college students to shout “intifada!” on campuses and use “anti-Zionism” as an excuse to harass Jews and kick them out of your political spaces and praise terrorists and write misleading articles like this, no one is infringing on your right to be an antisemitic extremist, you can rest easy.

  • PrettyBoi69

    If this article is true, this is a bunch of BS..Talk about turning us into a police state! What the hell is going on in Washington. Israel can deal problems and I’ll politician think that they are going to silence Americans for what they believe based on their political donations and lobby buddies. PATHETIC

  • Joshua Laskin

    The mission of BDS is the removal of all Jews from Palestine? I doubt it. There are plenty of pleasant Israeli Jews, who’d be welcomed to stay. It’s only the jerks, with their superior attitude, making themselves undesirable, who’d be encouraged to wander on. ‘God’ promised His Holy Land, to the Israelites, on the condition, that they wouldn’t behave, there, like jerks. Mission unaccomplished.