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BDS law does not violate free speech
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BDS law does not violate free speech

Last week New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a law prohibiting the state treasury from investing pension funds in companies that boycott Israel. The measure is similar to an executive order signed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year to divest state funds from companies that participate in the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” movement. 

Christie received praise for taking action against a movement that is, he said, “contrary to federal policy and…national interests and contradicts the long history of friendship between New Jersey and Israel.” 

Mark S. Levenson, chair of the NJ-Israel Commission, acknowledged with gratitude Christie’s enactment of the bill, saying, “Prohibiting discriminatory practices, such as boycotts of Israel and Israeli businesses, is key to continuing the story of success” of the longstanding NJ-Israel partnership.

Of course, Christie has also been hit with a heap of criticism, most notably by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. 

“Government investigators should not have free rein to spy on New Jerseyans’ political beliefs to check if they match the political opinions of lawmakers. No matter your viewpoint or opinion on the conflict in the Middle East, our constitutional rights to freedom of speech and protest must come first,” said ACLU-NJ senior staff attorney Alexander Shalom in a statement. He added that in enacting the bill, “Christie undermined not only boycotting as a political tactic, but our founding principles of free speech and free association.”

On its most basic level, Shalom’s statement has merit. After all, the new law will punish local companies for running their businesses as they see fit — whether for monetary or moral reasons. Such thinking is seemingly antithetical to American ideals. Even the Anti-Defamation League has said so.

But let’s take a deeper look. Like the World Conference Against Racism in 2001, aka Durban I, from which BDS originated, rather than fulfilling its stated goal of fighting racism, the movement itself is peddling lies and racist ideology masked as the good fight. Though supporters have been led to believe that they are advocating for the peaceful coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians living side-by-side, that’s not what BDS leaders appear to have in mind. By including the “Right of Return” — an often-invoked misnomer, as the language in UN General Assembly Resolution 194, established in 1948, states that Arab refugees “should” be allowed to return to their homes, not “must” — as one of their objectives, they’ve made it clear that they envision Palestinians living by themselves. Just listen to BDS founder Omar Barghouti:

“If the refugees were to return, you would not have a two-state solution. You would have a Palestine next to a Palestine,” he once said. He also wrote, “A return for refugees would end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.” 

The obvious conclusion: BDS is not about human rights, and Barghouti has acknowledged as much by saying the movement would continue even if the “occupation” were to end. BDS is rather a shrewd public relations strategy designed to draw intelligent, honorable individuals into the movement’s racially motivated struggle to forcibly dissolve the Jewish state. 

Christie — like Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was lauded by the New York Daily News for speaking out against the BDS movement — is not enacting punitive measures on companies exercising free speech. Rather, political leaders and legislators are saying that if you want to make business decisions in support of a spurious cause, don’t expect us to open our government wallets to help you out.

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