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This past weekend, I read an interesting article in The Intercept, “US Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel.” It caught my eye because I’ve had the privilege of meeting and discussing this boycott campaign with one of the founding members of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement, Omar Barghouti. What I know about the movement leads me to conclude that it comes nowhere close to being a threat to the state of Israel, if that country is serious about ending its occupation and colonization of Palestinian land.

The subject is the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, H.R. 1697, that would make it a crime to support or even furnish information about a boycott directed at Israel or Israeli businesses called by the United Nations, the European Union or any other “international governmental organization.” Violations would be punishable by fines of up to $1 million and imprisonment for up to 20 years.

I did a double take when I saw that one of the many co-sponsors of the bill is our 20th Congressional District representative, Jimmy Panetta. What follows are the comments that I would share with him in a letter or face to face:

Dear Congressman Panetta,

I wonder if you can explain to your constituents why you’ve chosen to attach your name to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, HR 1697.

In the first place, its title is misleading and it tries to conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. It is NOT anti-Semitic but rather it is against Israeli occupation of Palestine. It was inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement and, like that successful movement, is non-violent in nature and simply aimed at giving Palestinians the same rights as the rest of humanity.

Secondly, HR 1697, an AIPAC-sponsored proposal, appears to impose civic and criminal punishment on individuals solely for their political beliefs about Israel and its policies. Doesn’t that violate the 1st Amendment? Strictly speaking from a constitutional perspective, this bill seems to be antithetical to the very ideals Congress seeks to uphold. So, again, Mr. Panetta, why are you co-sponsoring it?

Thirdly, why would a congressman from the 20th District – one based on agriculture and tourism – feel the need to be a part of this bill? You sit on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees, not Foreign Affairs or Financial Services. Additionally and ironically, we live in an area that was affected by a boycott of its own back in the 1960s. What’s the difference between UFW supporters of that historic grape strike in Delano – like Caesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Bill Monning – and BDS supporters? How is your co-sponsorship of HR 1697 going to impact Monterey or Santa Cruz counties? And, on the other side of the world, what kind of message is this bill sending to the Palestinians and Israelis when things are heating up once again in Jerusalem over the Al-Aqsa dispute?

In an effort to urge you to reconsider your co-sponsorship, I would be happy to provide you neutral and accurate information about the BDS movement, if you’re interested in being fully informed. Additionally, you undoubtedly are aware there are many Palestinians and other Arabs who are your constituents here on the Monterey Peninsula and in the rest of your district. Many of them, I am sure, share my concern over your seemingly needless support of HR 1697. If you’re interested, we could meet with you to give you information that might make you rethink your support of this unfortunate bill.


Celeste B. Akkad

If Partisan readers feel as I do about this issue, I urge you to contact Congressman Panetta.

Celeste Akkad lives in Carmel.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • John Dalessio July 24, 2017, 4:57 pm

    RC – publish the email addresses of JP, DF and KH. Make it easier on those of us who agree with you on this issue.

  • Jean July 24, 2017, 4:59 pm

    What happened to free speech? Symbolic speech?

  • Po July 24, 2017, 6:13 pm

    Thank you for this, Celeste.
    As someone said on twitter quite eloquently “One nation under Israel.”

    Worse yet, this is happening across the western sphere…France, Canada, US… the same faces behind Je suis charlie are criminalizing free speech to protect a nation whose actions are in direct violation with international legal and moral standards.

  • Helga Fellay July 24, 2017, 7:00 pm

    Thank you, Celeste, and thank you, Royal, for allowing it. This bill must be stopped. And I’ll vote for anyone, whoever it is, who will run against Jimmy Panetta the next time around, because he chose to co-sponsor this bill which would kill the First Amendment and the last vestiges of freedom we still have left in this country.

  • Beverly G Bean July 24, 2017, 7:08 pm

    HR 1697 and its companion bill in the Senate S 720 criminalize free speech and activism and violate the First Amendment rights of citizens to express their political beliefs. The ACLU has condemned these bills and states that “boycotts to achieve political goals are a form of expression that the Supreme Court has ruled are protected by the First Amendment…”

    I hope that many constituents will phone Rep. Panetta and urge him to reverse his support of HR 1697
    The number is 202-225-2861

  • Phil Butler July 24, 2017, 7:25 pm

    This HR is in fact unconstitutional. At least I got agreement from Sam Farr that it is. I notified Jimmy that VFP chapter 46 (50 members) was against this ridiculous bill and that he should not sign on. So join with us in notifying Jimmy Panetta at panetta.house.gov and his aide Tyler Burrola tyler.burrola@mail.house.gov. Phone is 831-429-1976 and 831-457-1363

  • Louis MacFarland July 24, 2017, 8:26 pm

    Just another step in the almost absolute control the Israel Lobby has over the U.S. Congress.

    When Trump says America first, our Congress murmurs Israel first, and they have to or the Israel Lobby in the U.S. will unleash millions to fund smear campaigns and have them unseated.

    The state of New York recently adopted one of these bills which is absurd, there can not possibly be legal grounds for the state of New York prohibiting any state agency from doing business with another entity that chooses to boycott Israel (or any other nation) for whatever reason…

    It was just a couple years ago the Israel Lobby sued to shut down free speech for Palestinians on the Berkeley campus, and I watched in awe to see if the Israel Lobby even had complete control of our Constitution (they did not in this case, though many of the high paid worms in the UC system let it live far too long before it was defused).

    We spend tens of billions of dollars on our newest, and most expensive ever stealth fighter, the F35, and then give it to Israel, who has a history of bombing neighboring sovereign nations….

    Our federal deficit is ready to eclipse 20 trillion, largely funded by borrowing from China, yet there is no limit to how much money we give Israel and how many wars we will wage on sovereign nations at their behest.

  • Alice Angell Green July 24, 2017, 10:12 pm

    Thank you, Celeste, for your post.
    You wrote:
    “Secondly, HR 1697, an AIPAC-sponsored proposal, appears to impose civic and criminal punishment on individuals solely for their political beliefs about Israel and its policies.”

    I would like to add that the bill does not “appear” do these things, it does, in fact, do these things. That Panetta would co-sponsor such a horror makes me angry beyond belief.

    At the end of the letter, you called the bill “unfortunate”. It is not unfortunate, it is a total outrage. I believe I understand why you are using a soft-pedaling tone–you want dialogue. Nevertheless, this bill is such an huge step towards dictatorship, it needs to be called out as such directly.

  • Stephen Schweitzer July 24, 2017, 10:41 pm

    Israel attacked the USS Liberty AGTR5 in June of 1967. Had our government dealt with Israel then, their influence would have faded long ago.

    • Paul Karrer August 5, 2017, 9:56 am

      Unfortunately probably not true. The religious right will continue to believe the world is 6000 years old and that Israel has a special land contract with an invisible entity in the firmament above. In order for their religious beliefs to be credentialed – they must accept and promote Israel’s foundation beliefs no matter how preposterous. A fact like the attack of a US ship by an ally does not , can not undo- hypnotic religious ‘faith’ ever. Magic wins.

  • Dan Turner July 25, 2017, 9:11 am

    Thanks for publishing this on your web site, Royal. Perhaps the times, they are a-changing.

  • bill hood July 25, 2017, 2:28 pm

    I highly recommend to anyone who is concerned about the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian stand-off, with so much sadness, loss of life, and inability to reconcile their opposing positions a novel by Richard NOrth Patterson called ‘Exile”. In the book, which is admittedly a long one, explores in detail the positions of both sides in the context of a SF jewish attorney who ends up defending a Palestinian woman accused of master-minding an assassination of Israel PM during a visit in SF.
    THe book takes no sides, but does an amazing ability to elicit the personal and deep feelings of ordinary citizens on both sides of the equation, of elected persons, military men and woman, intelligence operatives, and even deep black operatives who kill those on the other side, and those considered to be terrorists. ALthough Patterson wrote this book in 2009, the issues he so thoroughly describe indicate that nothing has really happened in all those years up to date.
    You will be educated, amazed and feel very sad for many of the persons, whether jewish or arab, caught up in a religious, right to occupy, and pure hatred swirl that those on both sides who long for a peaceful solution cannot overcome.

  • Helga Fellay July 26, 2017, 9:19 am

    sounds to me like another one of those efforts of whitewashing: presenting a horrible holocaust of Palestinians as a “conflict” or a “stand-off” between neighbors, when it is in fact a slow genocide carried out against a defenseless people by those who stole their country. It is complete nonsense to call it merely an “inability to reconcile their opposing positions” just as it would have been complete nonsense to call the Nazis persecution of the Jews in the 1930’s an “inability to reconcile their opposing positions.” It’s dishonest as well as disingenuous to state that “THe book takes no sides” as well as referring to “both sides of the equation” just as much as it would be dishonest and disingenuous to describe Nazi concentration camps in terms of “both sides of the equation.” There was no “equation” then, and there is no “equation” now when describing Israeli terrorism. Richard Patterson, defense attorney for a Palestinian assassin, may have written what he wrote in self defense due to harassment and persecution he probably suffered for defending a Palestinian.

  • bill hood July 26, 2017, 10:09 am

    Helga – he didn’t defend a Palestinian – he wrote a novel about a Jewish (which he is not) attorney who went to Harvard Law School with a Palestinian woman as a class mate with whom he fell in love and had a brief affair with her. They parted .ways, she married a Palestinian man, who also was a classmate and the attorney married a good Jewish girl from a good family. I won’t tell the plot any more, but suffice it to say, it was far from a whitewash – in fact Patterson, in doing his research, met with Hamas, victims of attacks by the Israelis on their parents, the terrible conditions of the refugee camps, and the many reasons why Palestinians have a right to hate the Jews who took their property and continue to expand their presence. On the other side, he met with high Israeli officials, including intelligence and military people, as well as everyday persons who also were suffering under the current conditions. Don’t be too quick to criticize unless you actually read the book. It is very intellectual, with actual facts supporting the problems for both sides, and the personal anguish the attorney experienced by agreeing to defend a Palestinian woman accused of being the director of an assassination of the Israeli PM in SF. I challenge you to read it – I am sure you would be impressed by it.

  • bill hood July 26, 2017, 10:19 am

    to Helga – a PS: first I will ignore your criticism of my choice of words to describe the situation – I agree that they aren’t the best way to do that, but they were definitely stated because of a bias that I have against one party or the other. With respect to Patterson’s novel, Exile, I think it might be valuable for you to get a copy not necessarily to read it, but to look in the back of the book to review his acknowledgements – I think reading that would convince you that he approached the writing of the book in an effort to describe the pain and suffering on both sides, the faults of both sides and the positives. Then make up your mind and rewrite your criticism, if you are so inclined.

    • Helga Fellay July 26, 2017, 12:58 pm

      So the book is fiction then? You should have indicated it was a novel about…. I don’t read novels nor do I have any interest in fiction describing the suffering of the zionists. I will make do with actual reports of what’s happening on the ground, which unfortunately you can’t find in any of our corporate western media (which, coincidentally, also write fiction). You speak of the faults of both sides. I am aware that it’s the fault of the Palestinians to have lived in Palestine for the past 2,000 years, which has been declared to be Israel, as well as young boys throwing rocks, for which they get killed. You seem very innocent.

  • bill hood July 26, 2017, 10:21 am

    Whoops – make that I was NOT, restate NOT, biased.

  • Phillip Crawford July 26, 2017, 1:55 pm

    Thank you, Ms. Akkad, for this piece. I would like to offer a few thoughts.
    1. Freedom of expression includes the right of people to express views one finds abhorrent. If one doesn’t support the right of other people to express views one finds repellent, one doesn’t support free expression. After all, even Hitler supported free speech for people who agreed with him. To quote Evelyn Beatrice Hall, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
    Because this bill targets people specifically due to their political viewpoints, it is opposed by the ACLU (which takes no position on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement) and by J Street (which opposes BDS).

    2. This is at least the second time Rep. Panetta has voted in line with the demands of the Israeli lobby and of what Jeff Halper calls the “MISSILE (Military, Internal Security, Surveillance, Intelligence-gathering and Law Enforcement) complex.
    Rep. Panetta’s first vote as our new representative was a vote condemning the United Nations Security Council for its opposition to Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. This vote placed Rep. Panetta in opposition to the stated policy of the Obama administration and on the same side as Donald Trump on the settlement issue. It also placed Rep. Panetta in opposition to international law, under which the construction of the settlements is a war crime.
    It is surprising to me that an attorney and a former Navy intelligence officer would show such disregard for international law. Of course, busy legislators frequently rely upon their staff to brief them on issues. If Rep. Panetta is basing his decisions regarding Israel on the advice of his staff, they are giving him bad advice.
    3. Rep. Panetta’s positions on Israel are sadly common among so-called “progressives” (a vague term which encompasses liberals, leftists and, sometimes, anyone to the left of Attila the Hun). Many progressives who will fulminate about every conceivable domestic and international injustice will maintain a deafening silence when it comes to the apartheid, colonialism and illegal occupation imposed upon the Palestinians.
    There may be more charitable explanations for this disregard for Palestinian suffering, but the one that springs to mind is moral cowardice. If one expresses the view that Palestinians are entitled to the same human rights as all other people, one can expect to be vilified as an anti-Semite by apologists for Israel’s inhumane policies. Knowing the price to be paid for advocating full and equal human rights for the Palestinians, many progressives are prepared to throw the Palestinians under the bus with little hesitation. These progressives are so common that there is even an acronym for them: PEEPs (Progressive on Everything Except Palestine).
    The progressive activist community in Monterey County seems to be particularly reluctant to defend the human rights of Palestinians, especially when it comes to supporting the BDS movement, described by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a “principled, morally consistent, non-violent” response to the injustices perpetrated against the Palestinians. While there are Students for Justice in Palestine chapters on many CSU campuses around the state, there is not one at CSUMB, or at any local educational institution. Looking at the endorsers of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (http://www.usacbi.org/), I see a tiny handful of local academics, despite the substantial number of local academics who consider themselves activists against Islamophobia, racism and other injustices. Far too many of these human rights activists maintain a comfortable neutrality when it comes to Israel’s policies of apartheid and settler-colonialism. I’d like to remind these activists of the words of Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
    4. After a very promising resurgence in the first few months after the November election, the local progressive activist community has essentially collapsed (or self-destructed). Over the past several years, attempts to establish a local Palestinian solidarity activist group have also shown early promise and then petered out. Is anyone ready to give it another try?

  • bill hood July 26, 2017, 2:53 pm

    The dialogue is very interesting. THe Palestinians have suffered greatly from the beginning of the establishment of Israel – there is no question about it. But no matter how much a person may believe that the cause of the current and historic relationship, if one can call it that, between the two parties, rests solely on the backs of only one of those parties is missing the point. Killing each other, especially innocents, will never end in a solution. Hate, although very very understandable, will never end in a solution either, especially when it drives haters to take others lives. The answers are difficult and maybe never to be realized. But supporting one side or the other, without understanding the overall context, is like voting for your party, whether it be good, bad or even ugly, without contemplating the results of such a vote. Few are totally innocent. But my feeling is that you should strongly support whom you believe is right, but that part of that support should include efforts to seek a real future for both sides A suggestion easier to state than to do, but failure to even try will, in the long run, not be a positive effort for those whom you support.

    • Dan Turner July 26, 2017, 10:51 pm

      ” Killing each other, especially innocents, will never end in a solution.” Really? It seems to have worked pretty well here in the US of A in regard to the little problem the European settlers had w/the indigenous folks, AKA Indians.
      The Israelis will suffer the existence of the Palestinians as long as they agree to live w/their heads down in smaller and smaller enclaves. If they resist, the Israelis will kill them. It’s as simple as that.
      I like you and respect you immensely, in various ways and for various reasons, Bill, but you have no understanding of the Israel/Palestine situation.

  • Phillip Crawford July 27, 2017, 5:49 am

    There are at least a few people participating in this discussion who are well-informed and passionate about the injustices inflicted upon the Palestinians. My question is: why isn’t there any effective and organized local activism on the issue?

    • Hanan shawar July 29, 2017, 10:07 am

      It’s simple and it’s clear every time one active or comes up or get active ….. they somehow turn their back on them
      After they gain or try to gain that groups followers
      It’s not activism it’s more like who’s who
      Or more simply they’re trying to be who is who 😉
      And group leaders that do this If you’re not with me you’re against me
      This is my agenda and you better follow it
      There is no diversity and they’re just trying to get their own agenda through
      Just look around some of the attitude of some of in a group or a meeting or events
      The groups are not working together there working against each other
      I don’t see peace in any of this

  • bill hood July 27, 2017, 6:48 am

    Dan – thanks for your comment. I also respect you and look forward to your postings. The passion that people have for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict rightly causes them to strongly defend their positions and criticize those that disagree. I get that, for sure – the lives of many innocent people have been greatly affected in so many negative ways for no or little hope that things will get better.
    I have not done a very good job of trying to say that fault lies on both sides and fully understand why those passionate about the Palestinians would reject what I have said. I myself are not supportive of the actions taken by the Israelis and deplore the conditions that the Palestinians are living under — on land that lived for centuries. On the other hand, I don’t condone resorting to violence as a way to give an outlet to years of hatred. So, the only thing I would suggest is to read the acknowledgements that Richard North Patterson wrote at the end of his novel, Exile. I think that anyone who is passionate about the issue should read just that – it’s only a few pages but it does state the reasons why young Palestinians resort to violence because they dispair of having any future, and why the Jews, who have suffered the Holocaust and hark back to their God giving them the land as far back as Abraham feel they have a right to occupy “their” land. Knowing the reasons why both factions feel justified for what they are doing doesn’t make any of it right. If you have the opportunity to read just the acknowledgments, I would greatly appreciate having your take on what Patterson says. Thanks again – I don’t claim to be right in any way but it isn’t because I have no information on what has happened since 1948.

    • Helga Fellay July 27, 2017, 8:58 am

      I do not base my political positions on fiction novels regardless of how well written they may be. I look at facts and statistics. I wanted to share a few:

      134 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 2,162 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000 [to emphasize the Bill’s “equation: 134 vs. 2,162]

      1,216 Israelis and at least 9,498 Palestinians have been killed since September 29, 2000.

      11,870 Israelis and 93,392 Palestinians have been injured since September 29, 2000.

      During Fiscal Year 2016, the U.S. is providing Israel with at least $10.1 million per day in military aid and $0 in military aid to the Palestinians. [that is $10.1 million of your tax money PER DAY to commit genocide]

      1955 – 1992 Israel has been targeted by at least 77 UN resolutions and the Palestinians have been targeted by 1.

      0 Israelis are being held prisoner by Palestinians, while 6,200 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel.

      1967 – Present
      0 Israeli homes have been demolished by Palestinians and at least 48,488 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since 1967. [to emphasize Bill’s “equation”: 0 vs. 48,488]

      The Israeli unemployment rate is 5%, while the Palestinian unemployment in the West Bank is 17.7%and 42% in Gaza.

      Israel currently has 261 Jewish-only settlements and ‘outposts’ built on confiscated Palestinian land. Palestinians do not have any settlements on Israeli land.
      Source: http://ifamericaknew.org/

    • Helga Fellay July 27, 2017, 9:23 am

      Bill, regarding your “God giving them the land as far back as Abraham feel they have a right to occupy “their” land.” That is religion, not fact. Abraham was actually born in a place in Anatolia (Turkey) near the Syrian border. It is currently known as Urfa. The ancient Greeks called it Orrhoe or Osrhoe. It was the capital of the eastern Hellenistic realm, populated by Macedonians who preferred to call it Edessa. It became an important garrison town into Roman times and was one of the first centers of the early Christian church. It was later reconquered by the Byzantines and then the Crusaders. But when the Zionists decided whose land to steal, they wisely decided not to attack and conquer what was then the Ottoman Empire (albeit in its last days). Palestine was a hinterland without any military defenses, the easier option.

    • Dan Turner July 27, 2017, 10:49 pm

      This is not “a plague on both your houses” issue. The Palestinians were sitting there minding their own business – not doing anything to harm the Jews – when the Jews came in and dispossessed the Palestinians and made them foreigners in their own land. The Palestinians have the right to self defense. They are not the aggressors. The trauma suffered by Jewish survivors of the nazi Holocaust in no way justifies anything that the Jews/Israelis have done to the Palestinians over the past 70 years. This is not a situation where there is plenty of blame on both sides. The entire blame for the Palestinian debacle or, as they refer to it, Nakba, lies w/the Jews/Israelis.

  • Phillip Crawford July 27, 2017, 10:15 am

    So, is anyone interested in doing something? Or is this simply an academic discussion over lattes?

  • Phillip Crawford July 27, 2017, 6:52 pm

    If people put into activism one percent of the time they put into arguing online, we would have revolutionary change.

  • Luana M Conley July 28, 2017, 8:55 am

    When people do attempt to criticize Democrats’ behavior around these parts, they are demonized and sidelined. (I know this from being past president of the Marina Democratic Party.) Below was the message from one local party operative chiding INDIVISIBLES, (a Dem front group) for criticizing Panetta after his first pro-Israeli vote. This is what the Dems do after they demand a vote for Lesser (Overt) Evils with hollow promises to “hold feet to fire.”

    “I’m hearing that a lot of INDIVISIBLE folks are going after
    Jimmy Panetta because of his Israel vote. Jimmy is an important person for
    our goals, and he has the right to disagree with us on a few
    things. Please do NOT start a divisive war without the movement.”

    How about starting an anti-war movement?

  • bill leone July 28, 2017, 9:54 am

    The focus of Celeste’s article is to question Congressman Panetta’s support for a bill that is clearly unconstitutional. The main points of Celeste’s article have been supported by intelligent, ethical & sober members of the community (namely, Beverly Bean & Phil Butler). As an elected member of the Monterey County Democratic Central Committee, I call on The Honorable Mr. Panetta to explain himself for supporting this objectionable piece of legislation, which I believe does Not reflect the sentiments of his constituency.

    Your turn, Jimmy.

    • Phillip Crawford July 28, 2017, 11:43 am

      The implication is that Ms. Bean and Mr. Butler are intelligent, ethical and sober members of the community and the rest of us are not.

      • Helga Fellay July 28, 2017, 12:09 pm

        I think I can answer that, Phillip. I am guessing that both Bev Bean and Phil Butler must be known to be democrats, and therefore they must be intelligent, ethical and sober members of the community. The rest of us schlepps, whose complete loyalty to the Dem establishment is either questionable or does not exist, well, you know. Life seems so much simpler that way, never have to read up on anything or think about anything, just read your newsletter sent from Dem HQ. Sorry about the sarcasm.

        • Phillip Crawford July 28, 2017, 12:47 pm

          I always appreciate sarcasm, particularly when its directed at someone other than me. As for being sober, it’s not 5:00pm, and I’m headed to court, so I definitely am. As for being intelligent and ethical, I’ll take the 5th.

  • Celeste Akkad July 28, 2017, 2:26 pm

    This has been an interesting exchange of information, facts and opinion. Several days ago, when I did not hear from Mr. Panetta or anyone in his office, I reposted my letter on both Facebook and Twitter. When it was obvious I wouldn’t hear back using social media, I sent an email to Tyler Burrola using the address Phil Butler provided (thanks, Phil!). Because I have an extension on my laptop that tracks emails, I know that Mr. Burrola has opened that email; however, again I have not had a response from him or, interestingly, from either the Herald or Coast Weekly whom I included in at least one of my tweets to Mr. Panetta. So, while I could be wrong in expecting quick turnaround, like Phillip Crawford, I wonder why there isn’t more interest in supporting the Palestinians in their non-violent effort to seek the end of occupation.
    You might be interested in a follow up article, “Senators Promise to Amend Israel Boycott Bill After Backlash,” The Intercept posted six days after their original piece. Perhaps Mr. Panetta, like many of these senators, is finally sitting down to read the wording of the bill! Of course, he might also be trying to decide if it’s worth doing anything now given the apparent small number of his constituents who have taken the time to let him know of their objections. The local media certainly doesn’t appear to care about the issue.
    While some of these senators claim that civil society organizations and individuals have the right to “express their views on Israeli or American foreign policy,” how will an actual case be adjudicated in the Trump era. There seems to be no concern whatsoever for the other equally important issue of Palestinian rights. Senator Gillibrand agreed to rethink her support once Jewish Voices for Peace approached her with a real-time event (http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/five-americans-prohibited-fly-israel-over-bds-support-report-396101587) that occurred this week at Dulles Airport – not even at Ben Gurion!
    Israel is calling the shots at an American airport to prohibit several delegates from three interfaith groups – Jewish Voices for Peace, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, and Interfaith Peace-Builders, the latter being the group I travelled to Palestine with two years ago – entry into the country. I firmly believe that S720 and HR1697 are similar tactics by which the Israelis continue their campaign to prevent many Americans from truly understanding what Israeli occupation of Palestine means.
    I haven’t shared much here on the Partisan. So, I’m unfamiliar with the protocol. However, there’s one topic at hand, namely legislation that runs afoul of the US Constitution and foreign policy ethics. So, let’s stick to that topic and not quabble among friends. Thanks for all your thoughts here.

  • Celeste Akkad July 28, 2017, 8:17 pm

    Sorry, I failed to realize I had a second link that didn’t automatically come over from Word. The Intercept’s follow up article can be found here: https://www.google.com/amp/s/static.theintercept.com/amp/cardin-amend-israel-boycott-bill-bds.html

  • Phillip Crawford July 29, 2017, 11:06 am

    Being well-informed about the issues does the oppressed no good whatsoever unless it is accompanied by effective activism. Unfortunately, I am aware of no effective local activism on this issue. For that matter, I’m not aware of much effective local activism on a host of important issues. “Progressives” in Monterey County seem to be more interested in “virtue signaling,” bickering, gossiping, insulting people with different perspectives, and undermining each other than with the radical transformation of society or assisting the defenseless and oppressed.

    • Helga Fellay July 29, 2017, 11:12 am

      Thank you, Celeste, for adding this link, although it gives little comfort. The sponsor of the bill merely promises to make a few changes to the bill (such as reducing the $1 million fine to a mere $250,000 fine – small change for most of us) to make the bill more “appealing” – without actually addressing the fact that it is unconstitutional, and, at least theoretically, everyone in congress who co-sponsors it could be charges with treason. There is a sprinkling of good comments at the end. here’s the link to call or at least know who is backing this.
      The full list of co-sponsors

  • Helga Fellay July 29, 2017, 11:19 am

    for those among you who often find (some) readers’ comments more interesting and more thought-provoking than the articles we read, here is a sampling of the article referenced by Celeste:Clay
    July 27 2017, 9:49 a.m.
    Not only is this bill a violation of the 1st Amendment rights of every individual citizen in the US, it also violates the rights of corporations to express themselves. If Congress may recall there was a decision by SCOTUS called Citizens United that guaranteed corporations the same rights as individuals. You can’t have it both ways. Limiting corporate speech is limiting citizens rights.
    July 27 2017, 7:41 a.m.
    Boycotts are legal, they are protected by our First Amendment right to free speech and freedom of expression, and they can be targeted at department stores with liberal policies, as well as at companies that profit from the violation of human rights and the desecration of indigenous lands, from Standing Rock to Palestine. We cannot allow Zionists, be they Democrats or Republicans, to abrogate our constitutional rights, so as to further shield Israel from accountability.
    Furthermore, every Congress member who signed on to this bill is sacrificing the rights of their own constituents and all Americans to the interests of a foreign government. This is the height of disloyalty – and a measure of just how much power AIPAC has. Every one of them should be removed from office.
    All new House members have to sign a loyalty oath to Israel, disgusting in itself, and everyone is in a tizzy about Russia when Israel has interfered more in US politics than any other country?
    Now, this? As a US citizen I might be arrested for telling the truth about Israel?

    July 27 2017, 6:38 a.m.
    Putting a foreign country’s needs ahead of the rights of U.S. citizens is treason to me. This bill doesn’t need reworking. It needs to be booted entirely.

    July 26 2017, 8:38 a.m.
    Putting the welfare (literally, $10mm per day welfare payments!!) of a foreign power first and threatening to gut American’s rights to do so, puts an entire cabal of US government senators and governors in the position of Agents of a Foreign Power. They all need to be investigated right along with AIPAC, for interference in domestic affairs.
    AIPAC needs to be registered as a foreign agency — which it is not. It is the ONLY foreign agency registered as domestic.
    This is INCREDIBLY serious. This is the ACTUAL reality reflected in the McCarthyist delusion, and it is taking our nation down. To add an even darker underscore: over 30 United Nations member states do not recognize Israel’s legitimacy.

    Larry Saltzman
    July 26 2017, 7:58 a.m.
    Even modified this bill is an outrage. Israel is a rogue criminal state and we shouldn’t protect Israel from the consequences of it’s criminal actions.

    Benito Mussolini
    July 26 2017, 5:49 a.m.
    Reducing the fine from $1M to $250k will permit 4x as much activism. Not ‘Free Speech’, but moderately priced speech.

    July 26 2017, 6:59 a.m.
    You absolutely can’t make this stuff up! We have left even our theatre of the absurd politics in the rear view mirror and we are now simply speeding peddle to the metal into the abyss! We are ruled by narcissist and psychopaths and to expect anything resembling sanity from them is fantasy.

  • Saul Eisenstat July 29, 2017, 6:08 pm

    When the leaders of the world decide to apply their condemnation of Israel to all countries (ex: Russia, China, Britain and the Falklands amongst the many), then I’ll begin to listen to Ms. Sakked. Until then, BDS is pure anti-semitism

    • Phillip Crawford July 29, 2017, 7:54 pm

      And opposition to BDS is pure Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.

      • Phillip Crawford July 29, 2017, 7:56 pm

        And the “leaders of the world” are not calling for BDS. The Palestinians are.

    • Helga Fellay July 30, 2017, 9:54 am

      The moment Russia, China, Britain and the Falklands start treating a nation such as Palestine the same way Israeli zionists are treating the Palestinians, I am sure we will all join in their condemnation. And, as the Palestinians are far, far more semitic than Ashkenazi Jews, it follows that it is Israel that is guilty of anti-semitism.

    • Phillip Crawford July 30, 2017, 10:58 am

      Rather than present a reasoned argument, (Dr.?) Eisenstat instead relies upon what is essentially name-calling, accusing those whose views he dislikes of bigotry. Because we advocate for the human rights of all people, regardless of religious or cultural identity, we must be anti-Jewish bigots. Unfortunately, this type of attack is emblematic of the ethical and intellectual caliber of those who defend Israel’s policies of apartheid and settler-colonialism.
      I would be happy to debate Eisenstat in public on this or any other related issue. But I doubt he is up to the task.