A Democratic Party activist argued that the bipartisan Israel Anti-Boycott Act currently being considered by the United States Senate, “should hardly be controversial” because it “simply extends existing U.S. law” against foreign boycotts of Israel, in an analysis published Thursday in the Huffington Post.
Steven Sheffey, a blogger for the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), addressed various objections raised by opponents of the bill.
The first objection, which has been raised by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is that the new legislation would stifle free speech. Steffey countered this by pointing out that “both this bill and existing law prohibit specific commercial conduct, not free speech.” The Anti-Israel Boycott Act would not penalize someone for exercising their First Amendment right to call for a boycott of Israel, but would impose criminal penalties “for cooperation with foreign governments, and under the new law, with international governmental organizations,” which boycott Israel.
Other critics, Sheffey noted, have pointed to many omissions and deletions in the bill, but “that is how laws are written, and how they have to be written to fit into existing statutory framework.” To suggest that the law was written this way to mislead people “reflects either disingenuity or ignorance of the legislative process.”