Recently, the Arizona Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued Kansas for a law targeting supporters of a boycott against Israel, a law that Arizona also adopted in 2016 (HB-2617). Arizona and Kansas’s laws force individuals or businesses who contract with the state to sign a clause not to boycott Israel.
Now, nearly 70 years after the founding of Israel, displaced Palestinians make up a disproportionate percent of refugees worldwide. The forced exodus continues as West Bank settlements expand onto farmland seized from Palestinians. Those still living in the occupied territory are separated from each other by a racially-segregating apartheid wall that extends far beyond the 1967 border. While residents of the West Bank spend hours getting through checkpoints, those in Gaza are trapped in what locals refer to as “the world’s largest open-air prison.” Gazans live with only 4 hours of electricity a day, and little to no access to drinking water.
So far, diplomatic talks have failed to produce fair or productive solutions. It’s unrealistic to address a problem when one party confiscates homes and land while simultaneously conducting a constant siege of the other party. For this reason, Palestinian civil society organizations called for a non-violent, widespread boycott movement against Israel. The goals of the boycott are to (1) end the occupation and colonization of the West Bank, Golan Heights and Gaza, and to dismantle the wall; (2) recognize full equality of the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel (20 percent of Israelis); and (3) recognize the rights of Palestinian refugees to return.
An increasing number of organizations are joining the boycott of Israel including churches, Jewish organizations and academic associations. To suppress the right to boycott, 21 state governments adopted laws that violate our right to oppose state-sponsored violence. The ACLU rightly classifies this as an infringement of our right to free speech.
As a Jewish woman living in the United States, I believe I have the right to follow my conscience and question certain political actions by the state of Israel, and then boycott them because of that. Those who believe in the protection of our first amendment rights must demand that Arizona legislators repeal this restrictive law.
School of Government and Public Policy