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The following is a letter to me from Rep. Jimmy Panetta in response to my correspondence to him about the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. Following his letter is my response:

Dear Ms. Akkad,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (H.R. 1697) and allowing me to clarify my position as a co-sponsor of this bill.

I share your strong commitment to civil rights, including the First Amendment right to free speech. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, however, does not restrict the right of U.S. citizens to free speech, but rather is a narrowly targeted bill that would exercise Congress’s authority to regulate international commercial activity.

In 1977, Congress amended the Export Administration Act to prohibit U.S. persons from complying with unauthorized boycotts by a foreign government. This law, upheld by the courts, was enacted in response to the Arab League boycott initiated after Israel’s independence. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would extend this existing prohibition on U.S. companies from cooperating with foreign government boycotts of Israel to boycotts by international government organizations, such as the United Nations.

The legislation was introduced in response to U.N. Human Rights Council and other international government organization initiatives to economically isolate Israel while ignoring the atrocious human rights practices of some of the world’s worst regimes. The bill does not regulate non-governmental organizations, nor does it prohibit Americans from expressing their political points of view, including speaking in support of boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) efforts, engaging in boycott activities or otherwise voicing criticism of Israel. Furthermore, the legislation neither compels companies to conduct business with Israel, nor punishes them for refusing to do business with Israel for political or economic reasons.

Again, I share your commitment to the constitutionally protected right to free speech. As the bill moves through the legislative process, I will keep your views in mind and support any effort to further clarify that the bill does not infringe on the right to freedom of speech.

I appreciate knowing of your concerns and encourage you to continue to be in touch via my website, signing up for my e-newsletter, following me on Facebook or Twitter, or calling my office.  It is an honor to serve you and the central coast of California in the United States Congress.


Member of Congress


Mr response:

To refresh your memory, I had tried to offer Mr. Panetta some background about the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, given his support of HR 1697; had pointed out how such a bill would run counter to our Constitution; and then specifically asked him why, given his district’s composition, he would choose to be part of such a bill in the first place.  Since Mr. Panetta did not respond my points, I remain curious about his motives.

With the luxury retirement offers, I attended a meeting our congressman had with the Monterey chapter of Veterans for Peace on Friday, Aug. 18 . He was there to address topics of interest to that group, which included their concern over his co-sponsorship of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. Explaining his rationale, Mr. Panetta began by giving us his understanding that it “focuses on the Export Administration Act of 1977” that was created, in part, “to prevent people from participating in the Arab boycott of Israel back at that time.”

He continued by stating, “Arabs were boycotting Israel just because they did not like Israel. You know the reasons why. Back in 1977 this law was created … What the law says is that it prevents people from participating in an unsanctioned boycott of a foreign government.”

For emphasis he repeated his explanation, and said, “It prevents participation in a boycott by a foreign government.” He stated that the act went through the courts, was challenged and found constitutional. It is current law.

Then, in further explaining what he calls a narrowly focused bill, he said HR 1697 amends that act by adding international government organizations, “and that’s it.” He said, “So what the law would say is that it prevents participation in an unsanctioned boycott by a foreign government and international government organizations. That’s all it does. So, if you’re for BDS (Boycott, Divestments, Sanctions) against Israel, you can speak out. You can do your own boycott, divestment, sanctions. Companies by themselves can do their own BDS. It does not prevent anybody, and please correct me if I’m wrong, it does not prevent anybody from doing their own boycott, divestment, sanctions of Israel.”

He further stated, “It also depends upon how you feel about BDS. I am against BDS, Bernie Sanders is against BDS. I just got back from a trip to Israel where every single person I talked to over there, from people in Israeli leadership to people in Palestinian leadership — the Palestinian minister of finance — I had a one-on-one conversation with him and I straight out asked, ‘How do you feel about BDS?’. He said, ’Of course I’m against it. It hurts us.’ I spoke to people in the labor movement. They were against it. And I made sure because I wanted to see if there was anybody who supports BDS. Not one person supports BDS.”

He concluded by stating that before the bill goes to the House for a vote, “The authors should clarify the bill to let people understand that it doesn’t go against/infringe free speech. The second thing is if it comes to a vote as is, I will be inclined to introduce an amendment to the bill to clarify that bill.”

I believe Mr. Panetta hasn’t done all of the research he spoke of at that Friday. On a minor point, the Export Administration Act was introduced in March of 1979 and enacted into law by Jimmy Carter in September 1979. So, some of his terminology and dates are incorrect. In addition, unless my reading of the current bill HR 1697 from the government’s website is completely wrong, the bill, like the Senate’s version, still contains these words:

The bill prohibits any U.S. person engaged interstate or foreign commerce from supporting:

  • any request by a foreign country to impose any boycott against a country that is friendly to the United States and that is not itself the object of any form of boycott pursuant to United States law or regulation, or
  • any boycott fostered or imposed by any international governmental organization against Israel or any request by any international governmental organization to impose such a boycott.

Unless “U.S. Person” does not refer to you and me and to any U.S. company, I believe Mr. Panetta’s letter is inaccurate.  What he said to his audience Aug. 18 also seems to be inaccurate. “U.S .Persons” do appear to be prohibited from a boycott, divestment or sanction of certain Israeli policies. Perhaps Mr. Panetta should read the actual bill before the House. Again.

The trip he referred to was for freshmen members of Congress, along with Steny Hoyer and Kevin McCarthy, and took place in early August. It was paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation, a charitable organization affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Of course he met with those people! They’re the only people he either had time to meet or was allowed to meet on the whirlwind trip. His reference to the Palestinian finance minister is laughable because Salam Fayyad at this point has very little support or credibility among Palestinians and remains a relevant voice only for Israel and its allies. Like many of the other members of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Fayyad has worked hard to keep the Palestinian economy dependent on Israel while promoting a small economic elite in the West Bank. Of course Mr. Fayyad would reject any support of the BDS movement!

Mr. Panetta could have spoken with people in the region who would let him know that BDS is not anti-Semitic but rather is against Israeli occupation of Palestine. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, it is non-violent in nature and simply aimed at giving Palestinians the same rights as the rest of humanity.

There seems no logic to his firm rejection of BDS nor does he seem to understand the obviously complicated issues surrounding the Palestinian/Israeli impasse. Mr. Panetta’s focus on HR 1697 is its potential constitutional problem. It’s an important one, but it’s not the only problem with this amendment to a segment of the original unfortunate law.

In his Q&A session, Mr. Panetta said that if the authors of the amendment do not clarify it to ensure that it does not infringe on free speech, he will do just that. Given the wording of the existing bill, Mr. Panetta would have to rewrite a significant portion with very little apparent chance of it being approved. His statement also conflicts with what he said earlier in his discussion, that the House Rules Committee under GOP majority rule controls all amendments to House bills. He and Barbara Lee sit on the Rules Committee. So he saw exactly how her amendment to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) adopted after Sept. 11, 2001 was “plucked right out” of the Appropriations bill before it was sent to the House floor for a vote.

Mr. Panetta acknowledged that his amendment to cut off all funding for any executive order that would open up our coast to oil drilling received the same fate. So, what assurance does he think he has in offering any successful amendment to this or any bill? It’s easy for him to offer an amendment, especially in the environment on Capitol Hill. It appears far harder for him to be straight with his constituents.

I do not believe Mr. Panetta has devoted enough time to any investigation prior to offering his support for HR 1697. Perhaps it’s because he’s new to Capitol Hill or because he doesn’t have adequate advisers or time managers. That was clearly obvious on Friday when he mentioned that he had not had time to read the 10 questions the veterans had sent him prior to the meeting. His time with the veterans was also limited because his aide rushed him to his next gathering even though they had arrived late to this one. I left frustrated and assume others felt the same.

It also makes me wonder why a freshman member of Congress from an ag/tourist district feels the need to support this bill.

Akkad lives in Carmel and maintains close ties to the Middle East. Panetta, a Democrat,  represents the Central Coast in Congress.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ryan August 24, 2017, 7:12 pm

    “That was clearly obvious on Friday when he mentioned that he had not had time to read the 10 questions the veterans had sent him prior to the meeting.”–this must be one of his favorite weasel dodges. he had basically the same response before the Nov election when asked his opinion about Measure Z (the fracking ban): said he hadn’t read it. and i thought: you don’t do your homework on probably the most important ballot issue, and we’re supposed to elect you?


    • Helga Fellay August 24, 2017, 7:40 pm

      he is a lawyer, he passed the bar, he must know how to read. Of course he read the ten questions. And he co-sponsored the Anti-BDS bill, and of course he knows what it says, too. “Weasel dodges” hits the nail on the head. It means that he KNOWS that he is coming down on the wrong side of the issues, and that’s why he can’t defend his position, or else finds it too uncomfortable to do so. It means he is the consummate politician, just like his father. There is only one other possibility to explain his evasiveness. He knows that to succeed in politics in Washington you have to play ball with the powers that be, and in the case of the anti-BDS bill, we all know that’s Netanyahu’s unconditional DEMAND that this become law. So he knew he had to vote in favor of it, unless he wanted his career to end before it got started. The fact that he volunteered to co-sponsor it shows that he is an eager and willing player. That being so, he didn’t really need to know all the details, knowing he had to be in favor of it no matter what it said.

      • Peter Kwiek August 24, 2017, 11:56 pm

        Spot on, Helga. You can’t stand up to Israel if you are politically ambitious in this system.

  • Helen Rose August 24, 2017, 7:28 pm

    I also attended the meeting, and I was appalled by Congressman Panetta’s seemingly willful misinterpretation of this legislation, as well as his late arrival, admission that he had not read ten questions–submitted in advance by the Veterans for Peace–and his hasty departure before answering any questions from the audience! For this presentation Congressman Panetta should be on the payroll of AIPAC.

    • Helga Fellay August 24, 2017, 8:09 pm

      Helen, what makes you think he isn’t on the payroll of AIPAC. Why should he be different from the others. Remember when Netanyahu invited himself, against the wishes of President Obama, and addressed the US Congress and received (I think) 47 STANDING ovations in a 40 minute speech? Most rock banks can only dream of so much over the top enthusiasm. Everything has its price, at least in our Capitalism on Steroids society.

  • Linda Deutsch August 24, 2017, 8:17 pm

    Again, the not so thinly veiled anti Semitism of the local “Peace” voices. No mention as always, of the never ending rocket attacks into Israel from almost all regions of Palestine. Do you ever hear of Israeli suicide bombers attacking “innocent” Palestinians? No! The only time Israel attacks is in defense against these endless heinous acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. The unwillingness of the Palestinian Authority to even address these atrocities are indicative of the mindset that teaches hatred of Jews in their schools and teaching their children the anti-Semitism that has been pervasive since Israel’s existence. They want only to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth. How do you negotiate anything with people whose only desire is to see you gone? As for BDS, it is and always has been a smokescreen for virulent anti Semitism. As Golda Meir so wisely said; “peace will come only when Palestinians love their children more than they hate Israel.”

    • Dan Turner August 24, 2017, 9:28 pm

      Hopeless. Does anyone have the energy to respond to to this sort of Zionist diatribe? I don’t.

      • Dan Turner August 24, 2017, 9:29 pm

        I mean, where do you begin?

        • Helga Fellay August 25, 2017, 8:11 am

          my reaction exactly, Dan. As you may have noticed, it’s not easy to shut me up, but this woman managed. Maybe Jewish Voice for Peace could try? Although she would simply dismiss them as a bunch of self-hating Jews and dismiss them outright.

      • Helga Fellay August 25, 2017, 9:07 am

        you even got that wrong, Linda. I am from the alt left – always progressive. I campaigned and voted for Bernie Sanders (a Jew) and Jill Stein (a Jew) and hope for a viable third party progressive candidate to emerge. If not, I am hoping Tulsi Gabbard will run so I can support her. And I have never been a sycophant, nor have I ever supported sycophants.

        • Helga Fellay August 25, 2017, 1:00 pm

          Linda Deutsch: This is my answer to your comment below which does not have a Reply option: don’t try to be clever with me. Dan Turner and his wife have been personal friends of mine for decades. They are Jewish, in case you didn’t know. Dan’s and my political opinions are very similar. He, like many Jewish people I know and befriend, support BDS. And no, they don’t hate themselves. And none of them are Nazi sympathizers. It is possible to be both against genocide of Jews AND against genocide of Palestinians, at the same time. One does not preclude the other. Being against one does not signify that you must be in favor of the other. Those who supported BDS against apartheid South Africa did not hate White people. They hated injustice and inflicting pain and suffering on innocent people. Those who support BDS against militant zionism also don’t hate Jewish people. They hate injustice and inflicting pain and suffering on innocent Palestinian men, women and children whose only crime is being Palestinians and living where their ancestors have lived for thousands of years.

  • Po August 24, 2017, 10:26 pm

    I don’t Dan, I don’t…

  • Richard Gerber August 25, 2017, 7:32 am

    The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel is a hateful, misguided and one-sided effort to undermine the Jewish state. BDS calls for the economic boycott of companies that do business with the state of Israel, the academic boycott of Israeli institutions of higher learning and Israeli academics/professors/students, and the cultural boycott of Israel, demanding that artists and musicians not perform there. Some of its misguided supporters claim to seek justice for people of the region by peaceful means. But the founders of the BDS movement seek nothing less than the destruction of the homeland of the Jewish people, and have made their goal of the elimination of Israel clear in their writings and teachings. BDS seeks to accomplish what Israel’s enemies have so far been unable to achieve by military and terrorist attacks. Natan Sharansky, Soviet dissident, Israeli Knesset member and leader of the Jewish Agency declares BDS anti-Semitic because it meets his criteria of the 3D’s: BDS is guilty of delegitimization, demonization and imposing double standards of the state of Israel. BDS seeks to deny autonomy, freedom and self-determination for the Jewish people, and in doing so meets the US State Department’s definition of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism. BDS has been rejected by many people of good will, and all 50 U.S. Governers have signed an American Jewish Committee initiative, affirming a bipartisan rejection of BDS, and declaring that Israel is a vital U.S. ally and economic partner. A further affirmation of American support for our political, diplomatic, economic and cultural partner, Israel, comes in the form of proposed federal legislation, the Israel anti-Boycott Act. This legislation prohibits American cooperation with biased attempts by the U.N. and European Union to blacklist Israeli companies and businesses. It girds the historical U.S. rejection of anti-Israel boycott dating back to the Arab League boycott of Israel in the 1970’s, and strengthens legislation, agreed to by Arab countries such as Oman and Bahrain, that prohibits boycott of Israel for countries that want to foster trade relationships in the US.
    It is important to point out that there is nothing in this anti-BDS legislation that prohibits free speech, or the criticism of the state of Israel and its policies. The anti-legislation only applies to commercial conduct. The allegation that this legislation muzzles free speech is a disingenuous, hypocritical allegation: it is the BDS movement that violates the right to free speech on college campuses all over this country, especially in California. When Michael Oren, the US Ambassador to Israel, came to speak at UC-Irvine, he was shouted down and not permitted to speak by BDS supporters on campus. When Jerusalem mayor, Nir Barkat, came to San Francisco State University, he, too, was shouted down, by BDS supporters, and not permitted to speak.
    Our local congressman, Jimmy Panetta, recognizes the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and rejects the BDS movement. Congratulations, Congressman. Thank you for your support of those who truly seek peaceful coexistence in the Middle East, rather than the rejectionist ‘anti-normalization’ strategy of the BDS movement.

    • Helga Fellay August 25, 2017, 8:43 am

      Why BDS?

      1. Palestinians are the largest and longest-suffering refugee group in the world.

      2. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip live under the longest military occupation in modern history.

      3. 2014 was the deadliest year for Palestinians under occupation since 1967.

      4. A psychological survey in 2004 found that 97.5% of children between ages 10 and 19 in the Gaza Strip showed symptoms of PTSD, with 32.7% showing acute symptoms. Since the survey was conducted, the Gaza Strip has suffered through three Israeli military campaigns, which killed and injured thousands of people.

      5. Israel, with a population of just over 8 million people, receives one-third of all U.S. foreign aid. (Over $8 million in military aid per day.)

      6. Israel is one of the top five arms exporting nations in the world.

      7. At least 300 sheriffs and police officers from across the United States – from New York City to Oakland, California – have traveled to Israel for privately funded seminars in “counter-terrorism techniques.”

      8. Several veterans of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa (including Rev. Allan Boesak, Professor John Dugard, and Kgalema Motlanthe and Ronnie Kasrils of the African National Congress) have described the conditions facing Palestinians under Israeli occupation was worse than those faced by blacks under South African apartheid.

      9. A study published by the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa in 2012 concluded that Israel is practicing both colonialism and apartheid in occupied Palestine.

      10. Of Palestinian men living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 40% have spent time in Israeli jails. Torture is routine in these jails. Many Palestinians are held indefinitely and without charges. The conviction rate for those tried before Israeli military tribunals is approximately 99%. Hundreds of Palestinian children between 12 and 17 years old are arrested and interrogated every year.

The Palestinians suffering from expulsion, occupation, colonialism, apartheid, economic siege, illegal detention, torture and military attacks are calling on us to support them in their struggle for their most basic human rights by endorsing their call for boycott, divestment and sanctions. What will our response be? If you or your organization want to support this “principled, morally consistent and non-violent” response to the abuses committed against the Palestinians, please contact the Palestine Action Committee at montereybds@gmail.com.
The Palestine Action Committee is a project of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center.

      • Phillip Crawford August 27, 2017, 6:47 am

        Helga: Thank you for quoting me at length. However, neither the Palestine Action Committee nor I are still associated with the Monterey Peace and Justice Center.

    • Linda Deutsch August 25, 2017, 8:54 am

      Thank you

      • Linda Deutsch August 25, 2017, 9:01 am

        Helga….if Israel hadn’t been attacked from its very inception, all this would be moot. There is no “occupation” only protection from terrorists who, daily, lob rockets into Israel. Imagine if Mexico did that to the US…would the US not defend itself?? This hateful diatribe will never culminate in peace. Where is the support of all the ultra wealthy Arab nations for Palestine? They don’t care!!! It’s not up to Israel to assist Palestinian youth who have no prospects for jobs or future..Jews worldwide help other Jews. It’s time for the Arab countries to play a positive role in assisting their own instead of focusing on the destruction of Israel. I wish there was a “Jews for Peace” organization here to promote tolerance and help each side to better understand the other instead of perpetuating Jew and Israeli hatred.

      • Phillip Crawford August 27, 2017, 6:48 am

        I wrote every word of the piece “Why BDS?”

    • Frank Lambert August 26, 2017, 7:47 am

      Mr. Gerber, I think you have BDS movement confused with B.S., as it is a legitimate and peaceful way for standing up for the rights of the Palestinian people by their Zionist oppressors.

  • Helga Fellay August 25, 2017, 9:52 am

    Hear another voice: Political Zionism is destroying a culture and a people, and intentionally so. It is seeking to ethnically cleanse a land by any means possible: scaring Palestinian families so they flee to other nations, incarcerating Palestinian men for the simple crime of being Palestinian, harassing and damaging children both emotionally and physically (all well-documented), and yes, even killing them. Palestinians are killed by the Israeli military on a regular basis under the guise of “crowd control.” We heard story upon story from young Palestinians who remember watching high school classmates die as a result of the so-called “harmless” rubber bullets, or because they were hit in the head with a tear gas canister at close range, or had a severe reaction to the gas itself. There are many abuses of Palestinian children taking place at the hands of the Israeli military and penal system. These stories hardly ever make U.S. headlines, which is why you really don’t know much about that.

    American exceptionalism is guilty of the massacre of Native Americans and the enslavement and oppression of African Americans. It has reared its ugly head in every war in which we have demonized our enemies to make them seem less-than-human, making it easier to resolve our consciences about collateral damage. We hear it in our immigration debates today. American national psyche still suffers, whether we know it or not, from our exceptionalism sins of the past and present. When we exercise our American exceptionalism attitudes in ways that are harmful to human beings not like us, we are wrong and immoral and must be called on that. I learned that in a highly respected Presbyterian theological seminary in the late 1970’s and have practiced it throughout my life as well as in 3+ decades of ordained ministry. When another people, with their own set of exceptionalism beliefs, do the same to an indigenous people in their own land, and my nation (translate: tax money) supports that financially to the tune of $3-4 billion each year the same standard applies. Add in the reality of U.S. corporate investment in occupation and that figure of $3-4 billion shoots sky high. As a taxpayer and as member of a church that invests my retirement funds in those corporations I have every right and moral obligation to speak to this injustice.

    Israel could not do what it does to Palestinians without U.S. support. While talking to a couple of the Israeli soldiers standing guard over us in the olive fields, I said: “I work very hard in the U.S. so that my government can send you my tax money.” His response was: “I work very hard to spend your money. Thank you very much.”

    By Dr. Rev. Jeffrey DeYoe Presbyterian Church, Zionism Unsettled

  • Alice August 25, 2017, 10:37 am

    Are you listening to yourselves? At first I was going to suggest that an honest answer to Deutsch’s concerns might be a start, but that split second passed eons ago in Internet time. The Internet truly may be overrated, giving individuals with no practical responsibilities, no awareness of history, let alone knowledge, the opportunity to instantly develop expertise and self-righteousness and to demonize anyone who disagrees with their view of the world.

  • Helga Fellay August 25, 2017, 11:24 am

    Are you listening to yourself, Alice? What is preventing you from “giving an honest answer to Deutsch’s concerns?” “The Internet truly [gave at least one individual] with no practical responsibilities, no awareness of history, let alone knowledge, the opportunity to instantly develop expertise and self-righteousness and to demonize anyone who disagrees with [her] view of the world” – as for example attaching a demonizing label such as “true alt right sycophant” to a person disagreeing with her view?

  • Alice August 25, 2017, 12:17 pm

    Yes. I used the plural, “yourselves”.

  • Helga Fellay August 25, 2017, 7:52 pm

    fair enough. I think you are wrong about Dan.

  • Frank Lambert August 26, 2017, 7:54 am

    Ms Deutsch, I’ve known Dan Turner for quite a few years and he is not a “well know” (?) white supremacist as you state, but an advocate for human rights for ALL people on this planet.

  • Phillip Crawford August 26, 2017, 10:01 am

    Thank you again, Ms. Akkad, for your continuing efforts in support of human rights. The BDS movement is a morally consistent, principled, nonviolent response to the injustices suffered by Palestinians. Opposition to the BDS movement is fundamentally immoral and racist. By failing to support the BDS movement, Mr. Panetta has declared himself to be supporter of apartheid and colonialism.
    Accurate information about the BDS movement can be found here: https://bdsmovement.net/
    Unfortunately, however, local supporters of BDS have proven themselves to be capable of little more than ranting on the internet. Like almost every progressive organizing effort, local efforts to organize effective action in support of human rights for Palestine have been repeatedly derailed by the emotionally disturbed
    social misfits, egomaniacs, and Democratic Party apparatchiks who dominate the local progressive/peace and justice movement.

  • Phillip Crawford August 26, 2017, 10:26 am

    Hilarious. A supporter of apartheid, colonialism and ethnic cleansing calling someone a “white supremacist.”

  • Helga Fellay August 26, 2017, 7:35 pm
  • Jean August 27, 2017, 8:09 am

    Defamation and public ridicule of a commenter are not going to contribute to a resolution of this extremely challenging situation.
    The fact-finders have contributed greatly to better understanding, and I’m grateful for what they provided.

    • Phillip Crawford August 28, 2017, 4:54 am

      What is “challenging” about supporting international law and opposing apartheid and colonialism?

    • Phillip Crawford August 28, 2017, 5:02 am

      Jean: What facts have been found in this comment thread?

  • Phillip Crawford August 28, 2017, 6:48 am

    And by the way, Ms. Deutsch, Trump agrees with you on this.

  • Bill Hood August 28, 2017, 8:06 am

    I challenge each and every person who has strong positions regarding Israel and the Palestinians to read Richard North Patterson’s novel “Exile” – it will educate even those of you who believe you already have a complete handle on the issues.

  • Jean August 28, 2017, 9:49 am


    You don’t consider any of the details cited by Akkad or Fellay to be factual?

    • Phillip Crawford August 28, 2017, 5:18 pm

      Ms. Akkad’s original piece included statements of fact. Ms. Fellay quoted at length a collection of facts I wrote under the title “Why BDS?” and neglected to cite me as the author. Mr. Gerber and Ms. Deutsch have offered nothing but nonsense and irresponsible accusations of anti-semitism.

      • Helga Fellay August 28, 2017, 9:46 pm

        Phillip, the piece “Why BDS” was one of 6 comments I submitted, and it had your e-mail address at the end of it, and I cited the group you once were involved with when you were still at the Peace Center, and I guess it must have been a handout some years ago, I don’t remember. You mentioned three separate times in three separate comments that you are the one who wrote it. We all got it – everybody got it.
        This group you were once part of, The Palestine Action Committee, a project of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center, could still be active today if you hadn’t alienated its members by calling them, among other things, “emotionally disturbed social misfits, egomaniacs, and Democratic Party apparatchiks who dominate the local progressive/peace and justice movement.” Why are you so surprised when people don’t answer your cry to form a political action group?

        • Phillip Crawford August 29, 2017, 5:00 am

          Thanks for sharing your unique perspective, Helga.

  • Royal Calkins August 28, 2017, 7:41 pm

    Dear Commenters: I have deleted several comments because they violated the rule again name-calling. Please feel free to make your points but without calling each other bigots or anti-Semites or idiots or whatever. It can be done.

  • Phillip Crawford August 29, 2017, 6:52 am

    My offer stands. I will debate publicly any opponent of BDS. If any of the defenders of Israel’s policies of apartheid and settler-colonialism have a spine, contact me at montereybds@gmail.com. Maybe Royal can moderate.

  • Louis MacFarland August 29, 2017, 9:00 am

    Netanyahu just publicly proclaimed the settlements will remain forever –


    • Louis MacFarland August 29, 2017, 9:39 am

      and your tax dollars helped to build those settlements, thanks to guys and gals like Jimmy Panetta !

  • gil stein August 29, 2017, 12:01 pm

    I think it ironic that those carrying the “Free Speech” mantle here are supporting an ideology that has at it’s very essence a denial of free speech. The “B” in BDS is for boycott of Israeli products and Israeli people. It supports denying Israeli scholars from speaking at universities or colleges. It leads to the absurdity of boycotting films like “Wonder Woman” because the star is Israeli. It wishes to deny Israeli performers, including Israeli Arabs from performing outside Israel. BDS is anti-free speech. BDS is also harmful to Palestinians. In response to BDS pressure SodaStream closed it’s factory in the West Bank and 500 Palestinian workers lost good paying jobs. Thousands of people were economically harmed by BDS in this instance. It would be nice if these folks who support BDS pick up their checkbooks and send these now unemployed people $1500 a month so they can support their families. Talk is cheap.

    • Helga Fellay August 29, 2017, 12:48 pm

      actually, 470 lost their jobs, and 37 of them decided to continue working for SodaStream. But SodaStream opened in occupied Bedouin territory, which suffered from even more severe unemployment. The move was allegedly not due to BDS, but because it was cost effective. I guess Bedouins provide even cheaper labor than Palestinians on the West Bank. Here some excerpts from an article I just read:

      SodaStream moved its factory from an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank to a Palestinian Bedouin village colonised by Israel in the Negev [Getty]

      CEO Daniel Birnbaum refuted criticism of the company. “There’s no scandal,” Birnbaum told members of the media. “It’s a legitimate factory [in the West Bank]. We’re not breaking any international law, but in the meantime we decided to build a new factory here in the Negev.”
      He said the company had moved to the new factory as it was “cost effective”, but admitted BDS had played some role in the move, though he claims it was “minimal”.
      “This closure is a clear-cut BDS victory against an odiously complicit Israeli company,” said Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian human rights activist

      But this new factory, too, is proving to be controversial. BDS activists say it is located on land that the Israeli government confiscated from Bedouins in the 1950s. The factory is surrounded by 34 Bedouin villages, which are unrecognised by the Israeli government and are threatened with eviction,

      Israel granted the company 130 work permits, but only 37 of the Palestinian staff from the West Bank factory were able to meet the security requirements, which exclude single people and those aged 22 and younger.
      Those 37 staff travel up to four hours each day to work in the new factory. Tahsin Hanadi, 38, is the only woman among the group: “I leave home at 4:30am each day and I am home at 8:30pm,” she said, detailing a 16-hour ordeal that involves crossing an Israeli checkpoint and going through security checks.

      Barghouti told Al Jazeera “The Israeli argument that boycotting the colonies [Jewish settlements] will hurt poor Palestinian workers is disingenuous and intended to divert attention from the illegality of all Israeli colonies in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

      For full article go to: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/09/sodastream-factory-shows-palestinian-bedouins-plight-150910100606371.html

    • Phillip Crawford August 29, 2017, 1:03 pm

      Mr. Stein: You are misinformed. The Palestinian BDS National Committee never called for a boycott of “Wonder Woman.” BDS is an anti-racist movement and does not discriminate against individuals based on their national origin. The boycott is against institutions, not individuals.
      See: http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/wonder-woman-boycott-or-not-boycott-404590996

  • gil stein August 29, 2017, 1:05 pm

    Dear Helga
    Bedouins are by tradition nomadic, especially in the desert. There was no Bedouin land either before the founding of Israel or after. More important in regard to SodaStream, the wages they pay are the same whether it be Israeli,non-Israeli, Jew or gentile. Birnbaum did try to get permits, but as you noted, most could not meet security requirements. Considering the thousands of terrorist attacks attempted by Palestinians in the West Bank, the checkpoints are necessary. Perhaps the Palestinians could take the billions of dollars they get from the international community and build some factories of their own.

    • Phillip Crawford August 29, 2017, 2:02 pm

      Or perhaps Israel could end the occupation.

    • Helga Fellay August 29, 2017, 2:43 pm

      gil, according to you “There was no Bedouin land either before the founding of Israel or after.” I suppose that must mean that Bedouins never even existed, just as, according to zionists, Palestine never existed. Nomads move their herds from grazing field to grazing field. Therefore they live in tents, instead of brick and mortar houses. But they do live on land, neither in the air nor in the sea. They don’t move their tents between the North Pole and the South Pole, they move their herds and their tents between grazing fields on their Bedouin lands, exactly as they have for thousands of years, respected by their non-nomadic tribes bordering Bedouin territories. Only zionists violated this age old tradition by bulldozing their land, destroying their livelihoods and destroying their villages, and riving them out of the lands where their ancestors had survived for thousands of years.

  • Helga Fellay August 29, 2017, 9:09 pm

    Fresh off the press: Alison Weir writes,
    “After continuing pressure, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has announced that he will name a special envoy and maintain an office to monitor alleged anti-Semitism.
    All three previous anti-semitism envoys have been fervent Israel partisans, two of them working for AIPAC. The first envoy endorsed a new definition of the word “anti-Semitism” to include criticism of Israel; the second adopted the new, Israel-centric definition; and the third helped to disseminate the definition world-wide.
    This was part of an international campaign to expand the definition of anti-Semitism and embed this in governments and law enforcement agencies, potentially criminalizing support for Palestinian rights.
    When it appeared in June that Trump might eliminate the office in a cost-cutting measure, he and Tillerson came under immediate attack by Jewish organizations and some others, including the Southern Poverty Law Center……
    Dozens of other special envoy positions are being eliminated or combined, including ones concerned with Tibet, disabilities rights, global food security, cyber issues, global youth issues, conflict diamonds, the closing of Guantanamo, and a number that focus on the environment.”

    After all, who cares about such nonsense as the rights of the disabled, global food security, the horrors of Guantanamo, or the environment, when we must focus on criminalizing any form of criticism of the Israeli government. [sarcasm]