There is a bill in Congress — both the House and the Senate — called the Anti-Boycott bill. To me, that sounds almost un-American. After all, boycotts are a time-honored tradition. They were used in the American south to protest Jim Crow laws. Rosa Parks and the bus boycott are etched in our collective memory. I even called for one myself when my younger son was a newborn and a local restaurant wanted me to nurse him in the toilet. It caused quite a stir. We used boycotts to protest apartheid in South Africa. And apartheid fell. Now Congress wants to outlaw boycott? The Supreme Court has called boycott a form of speech. Therefore, if this bill became law, it would be a violation of freedom of speech, the first amendment to the Constitution. So why is Congress considering it? Because, the first part of the bill’s name is Israel. That’s right. It is the Israel Anti-Boycott bill.
Phyllis Bennis will be speaking at the Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A, on Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at IPS, working as a writer, activist and analyst on Middle East and UN issues. She also is a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. Sponsors include United Methodists for Kairos Response, Iowans for Palestine, the UI Center for Human Rights, and Veterans for Peace. Bennis will address the issue of the anti-Israel Boycott bills and other current issues in the Middle East. Join us for her view.