United States senators from both the Republican and Democratic parties are pushing to implement a bill that would make it a felony to support boycotting Israel, punishable by up to twenty years in prison. On Monday, the ACLU issued a letter to the Senate opposing the proposed legislation, which was introduced in March by Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). It was “drafted with the assistance of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC],” according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720), which has a total of 43 sponsors in the Senate (14 Democrats and 29 Republicans), seeks to broaden the the Export Administration Act of 1979 “to include in the prohibitions on boycotts against allies of the United States boycotts fostered by international governmental organizations against Israel and to direct the Export-Import Bank of the United States to oppose boycotts against Israel, and for other purposes.”
The bill in its current form would also make it illegal to even request information about boycotts against Israel, and violations would carry a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years behind bars. If passed, this legislation would effectively put U.S. citizens behind bars for up to twenty years for nothing more than their political beliefs.
“The impacts of the legislation would be antithetical to free speech protections enshrined in the First Amendment,” the ACLU wrote.
The organization also pointed out the contradictory nature of the proposed measure, explaining it“cannot fairly be characterized as an anti-discrimination measure, as some would argue. For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 already prevents businesses from discriminating against customers based on race, color, religion, and national origin. This bill, on the other hand, aims to punish people who support international boycotts that are meant to protest Israeli government policies, while leaving those who agree with Israeli government policies free from the threat of sanctions for engaging in the exact same behavior.”
“Whatever their merits, such boycotts rightly enjoy First Amendment protection.1 By penalizing those who support international boycotts of Israel, S.720 seeks only to punish the exercise of constitutional rights.”
If passed, this tyrannical bipartisan bill would blatantly violate the constitutional rights of every United States citizen by punishing individuals based on nothing but their political opinions and decisions as consumers.
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