Overture [12-01]: Does perception meet reality?

That would seem to be the question that is posed by Overture 12-1 which would paint a picture of the trampling of First Amendment rights by states that have passed legislation prohibiting state entities from doing business with companies engaged in discriminatory business practices directed at the state of Israel.

To date, ten states have passed such legislation and these states conduct over $1.5 billion in trade with businesses in Israel with over 250,000 jobs directly tied to that trade. The states have taken this initiative to protect those jobs from organizations that seek to boycott business, academia and artist because they are simply Israeli, which qualifies as discrimination. Make no mistake about it, the BDS Movement does not distinguish between the State of Israel, the government, and the people of Israel. Whether one is a business owner, academic or artist, you stand the risk of being boycotted for very instance of being Israeli.

This is not a situation in which one’s right to express oneself through a boycott is being infringed, this is a situation in which businesses who do business with these states are not allowed to discriminate. To say otherwise is to distort the reality.

The reality is that the United States for years has banned actions that discriminate against Israeli businesses who were being boycotted for just being Israeli. In the 1970’s the Arab League tried to force nations to boycott Israel and destroy Israel through a form of an economic blockade. Arab nations went as far as to use oil as a leverage to keep nations and businesses from engaging with Israel and Israeli companies. The United States passed a law banning such boycotts.

In 2015, President Obama signed into law the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, which protects countries from unjustified boycotts by prohibiting discrimination in government contracting. This act and the legislation passed in the individual states do nothing to infringe upon the Freedom of Speech and/or Expression that are acts created to not allow discrimination to occur within governmental contracting processes.

The reality is that Overture 12-1 is not seeking to protect individual rights, but actually seeks to allow actvity which unfairly discriminates on the basis of nationality.