Breaking: Congress Introduces Unconstitutional Bill Against BDS. Passage Will Stifle Academic Freedom.
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | February 6, 2014 – Today in Congress an unconstitutional bill was introduced, and if passed it would stifle academic freedom, chill free speech, and penalize the use of non-violent means of resistance and protest against the Israeli occupation. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has received a lot of attention in recent months, after various American academic organizations, including the American Studies Association, instituted an academic boycott of Israeli universities and institutions. New legislation introduced in Congress today would prohibit any institution that participates in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions or scholars from receiving federal funds under the Higher Education Act.
The Protect Academic Freedom Act provides that, “The Secretary shall consider an institution of higher education to be participating in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions or scholars if the institution, any significant part of the institution, or any organization significantly funded by the institution adopts a policy or resolution, issues a statement, or otherwise formally establishes the restriction of discourse, cooperation, exchange, or any other involvement with academic institutions or scholars on the basis of the connection of such institutions or such scholars to the state of Israel.”
To explain the rational for the legislation in terms that appeal to the average american taxpayer, Representative Peter Roskam made the following statement on Tuesday while introducing the Act:
“These organizations are clearly free to do what they want to do under the First Amendment, but the American taxpayer doesn’t have to subsidize it. The American taxpayer doesn’t have to be complicit in it. And the American taxpayer doesn’t have to play any part in it.”
So, according to Congressman Roskam’s reasoning, it is perfectly ok that the American taxpayer has to be complicit in and play a part in sending Israel $3 billion dollars per year in foreign aid while Israel maintains its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and continues to expand illegal settlements. Yet by contrast, our government’s funding of American institutions of higher education that merely fund an organization that in turn makes a statement against a foreign country is somehow an unreasonable burden for American taxpayers to bear. If the goal is to save the American taxpayer some money, why not cut aid to a foreign country before we cut aid to American education?
Congressman Roskam’s argument has no basis in logic.
For years Palestinians have adopted non-violent measures aimed at bringing an end to occupation. Through the BDS movement, activists are seeking to create international pressure on Israel to abide by international law, and end the occupation of Palestine. If passed, this bill will reveal the extent to which the American Congress instinctively seeks to protect Israel, even at the expense of time-honored American traditions like free speech and association.
ADC will continue to monitor the progress of the bill and will send subsequent action alerts related to the matter.