(Note: Once you have read this letter, please click here if you would like your name/organization to be added in support of this letter to be delivered to Senator Wyden. Also, please spread this letter widely to all the Oregonians you know!)
March 8, 2016
Re: “The Combating BDS Act of 2016” (S. 2531)
Dear Senator Wyden:
We, the undersigned, write to express our concern with the recently introduced legislation “The Combating BDS Act of 2016” (S. 2531). We are a statewide coalition of faith and social justice groups, as well as individuals who stand for civil liberties and human rights for all. We are Oregonians of many traditions—Jewish, Christian, Muslim, secular and others. This bill seeks to authorize state and local governments to divest assets from and prohibit investment in any entity that “engages in commerce or investment-related boycott, divestment or sanctions activity targeting Israel.” In so doing, the bill encourages states and local governments to take action that is unconstitutional by penalizing entities for engaging in First Amendment-protected political speech. As someone who has championed U.S. Constitutionally protected civil liberties, we are extremely disappointed with your support of this legislation that seeks to limit First Amendment rights.
In a landmark 1982 decision, NAACP v. Clairborne Hardware, the US Supreme Court ruled that boycotts and related activities to bring about political, social and economic change are political speech, occupying “the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.” By seeking to “authorize” state and local governments to penalize entities exercising their protected political speech with which the government does not agree, Congress would be encouraging governments to engage in “viewpoint discrimination,” an impermissible violation of the First Amendment – the protected right to free speech – according to the Supreme Court.
Furthermore, the text of the legislation defines boycott of Israel as “any activity that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories.” This language, along with similar legislation introduced over the last year, is part of a quiet campaign to legitimize and extend U.S. protection to Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise by blurring the legal distinction between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. This would reverse decades of U.S. policy that regards the settlements as illegitimate and illegal.
Please click here if you would like your name/organization to be added as a supporter of this letter to be delivered to Senator Wyden.
Additionally, recent polls reflect that Americans are beginning to view U.S. foreign policy toward Israel with a more critical eye than ever before. A Brookings Institute poll released in December 2015 found that 49% of Democrats (and over ⅓ of all Americans) support imposing economic sanctions or more serious action against Israel over settlement construction. A 2014 poll by GBA Strategies revealed that 49% of Jewish Americans age 18-29 support boycotting Israeli products that come from the West Bank in order to press for change in Israeli policy. At a time when public opinion is shifting so rapidly, such legislation is deeply out of touch with the current political reality.
Committed to international law, human rights and the First Amendment, we express our deep disappointment in your co-sponsorship of S. 2531.
To sign in support of this letter, please go to this link. You may sign as an individual or, if authorized to do so, on behalf of your group or organization. Please spread this letter widely (to Oregonians) to sign on.
Come help us deliver petitions to Airbnb in downtown Portland!
Thursday, March 10th
Blagen Block Building, 34 NW 1st Ave near the Skidmore Fountain Max Station, Portland, Oregon
Airbnb, we say NO!
Occupation vacation has got to GO!!
See more and sign a petition at http://stolenhomes.org/
As people who care about human rights and international law, we ask Airbnb to immediately stop listing vacation rentals in Israeli settlements, all of which were built on stolen Palestinian land and deemed illegal under international law. Airbnb’s anti-discrimination policy states that they prohibit listings that promote racism, discrimination, or harm to individuals or groups, and require all users to comply with local laws. Yet, listing vacation rentals in illegal settlements promotes structural discrimination, theft of Palestinians' land, and direct violations of international law. Through earning fees from settlement vacation rentals, Airbnb is directly profiting from the continuing occupation and dispossession of Palestinians.
American Muslims for Palestine
Jewish Voice for Peace
U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
U.S. Palestinian Community Network
It is outrageous. Yesterday, Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Reps. Robert Dold (R-IL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA) introduced the “Combating BDS Act of 2016.” Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is a cosponsor!
These bills seek to authorize state and local governments to divest from entities that support the Palestinian civil society-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Call and write your Members of Congress today to tell them that you support BDS as a nonviolent means to achieve Palestinian freedom, justice and equality, and ask them not to cosponsor S.2531 and H.R.4514.
Vancouver, Wash., exhibit commemorates 1864 Sand Creek Massacre
‘One November Morning’
What: Art exhibit commemorating the survivors of the Sand Creek Massacre
When: Opens 4 p.m. Feb. 13; runs through May 28
Where: Clark County Historical Museum, 1511 Main St., Vancouver, WA
Read more on Street Roots
Those familiar with the genocidal statements made by Israel's right wing leadership towards Palestinians will see the ethos of that ideology in our own history. The Colonel John Chivington, responsible for the Sand Creek Massacre spoke of Native Americans like right-wing Israelis speak of Palestinians. As the Street Roots article said:
In a speech delivered in Denver shortly before the massacre, Chivington had publicly advocated for the killing and scalping of all Indian people, including children, declaring, “Nits make lice.”
Compare this with Israel's Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked who said during the last Gaza War:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wells Fargo Complicit in Private Prison Industry: City of Portland Committee Recommends Divestment
February 22, 2016
After several months of deliberation and community input, today the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) committee voted unanimously to recommend that the City of Portland divest of their holdings in Wells Fargo & Company due to the company’s financing of for-profit incarceration, and their “morally bankrupt” lending practices.
Paulino Ruiz of Woodburn spoke at today’s SRI committee meeting about his two years in immigrant detention, and his role is catalyzing hunger strikes at the GEO Group owned Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. He said, “I was retaliated against for [the hunger strike]... I had no access to my attorney, my case information, or family support... Just during my detention, prisons and investors like Wells Fargo made over $100,000 that could have been spent doing good for the community instead.”
This decision marks the first time that a public body has voted for divestment from Wells Fargo due to their complicity in the prison industry. This comes on the heels of recent prison divestment by Columbia University and the University of California, and pledges by Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders to outlaw private incarceration.
“We are thrilled that the committee made the right decision today. Our Black, Latino and immigrant communities have suffered enough from incarceration,” said Mary Mendez of Enlace, the Portland- based organization that is convener of the national Prison Divestment Campaign. “Divestment from private prisons is part of a larger movement to end mass incarceration and immigrant detention.”
“Today’s decision indicates that it is time to take the profit motive out of incarceration,” said Kayse Jama, Director of the Center for Intercultural Organizing and coalition partner of the Portland Prison Divestment Campaign. “Private prison corporations and their financial backers like Wells Fargo should not be profiting from incarceration, and should not be allowed to lobby on criminal justice and immigration policy, because their motivation is to put more and more people behind bars.”
Read more: Wells Fargo Complicit in Private Prison Industry: City of Portland Committee Recommends Divestment
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Ilan Pappe's Revealing Book: