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Anti-BDS Laws Undercut Israel Advocacy


Our TTN colleague, David Schraub, a lecturer and researcher in law at the University of California-Berkeley and the California Constitution Center, wrote this opinion piece in The Forward: “Why People Who Oppose BDS Should Oppose Anti-BDS Laws, Too.” A liberal opponent of the anti-Israel BDS campaign, he nevertheless cites examples of how state politicians, university administrators and bureaucrats apply anti-BDS laws badly, in ways that infringe upon academic freedom and First Amendment rights.  Hence, they tend to cast the pro-Israel community as bullying and reactionary.  This is a small sample of the article:

. . .   Anti-BDS laws are part of an ongoing trend where Jewish groups transfer pro-Israel politics and practice into the hands of predominantly non-Jewish actors like state governments. But neither the state legislators who draft these laws nor the local bureaucrats who will enforce them necessarily share the same interests that we do and are not always going to be reliable agents.

Even liberals who loathe BDS might blanche at nakedly interfering with academic freedom at a public university. But it’s highly unlikely that Republican legislators who’ve all but declared war on modern academia will echo their concern. Jewish groups endorsing anti-BDS legislation might envision finely tailored language written so as to avoid any controversy. But that desire won’t always be shared by spotlight-craving lawmakers whose primary interest in the cause is symbolic and so may well be spoiling for a high-profile fight.  . . .

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Schraub is contending that pro-Israel forces have boxed themselves in with hard-right elements, whether they wanted to or not.  In making this argument, he cites the example of AIPAC’s recent conference making an appeal to progressives as an essential priority for the pro-Israel movement, and then being addressed by the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, denouncing peace-oriented pro-Israel groups as “blasphemous.”

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