Debate, Don’t Avoid

The so-called “anti-BDS bill” (“An Impassioned Debate,” March 10) would create a blacklist of individuals, companies and other groups that support BDS. This McCarthyist bill is an attempt to chill speech and dissent on this issue. Individuals and companies that don’t do business in settlements or with Israel would be punished. Similarly, the Israeli Knesset just last week passed a bill denying visas to non-citizens who support boycotts of Israel, Israeli institutions or the settlements.

The ACLU of Maryland, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the National Lawyers’ Guild have all concluded that the bill violates the First Amendment because conditioning a public benefit on a political viewpoint chills speech.

Muslim BDS activists have raised more than $100,000 to repair vandalized Jewish cemeteries. At a time when synagogues are receiving bomb threats, mosques are vandalized and burned, and racism is on the rise, advocates for this bill make the ludicrous claim that a multifaith, intergenerational, international movement for Palestinian human rights is the real threat.

If the Baltimore Jewish Council opposes BDS they should agree to open debate, as everyone has to do, and not ask the government to violate constitutional principles to avoid us and silence dissent.

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