The following letter is circulating:
Dear Oregonians and Supporters of Human Rights and Free Speech,
We are a diverse group of concerned Oregonians, Palestinian rights activists, and defenders of our First Amendment Rights. We ask that you join us in acting together to condemn and defeat several bills introduced recently in the Oregon Legislature: Bills: SCR25, SM1, and SJM9. This legislation attacks United Nations efforts to oppose illegal settlements on Palestinian land, and attempts to put an end to an increasingly effective campaign in support of human rights and international law in Palestine-Israel.
Please share this email widely. Thank you!
Below are descriptions of each bill, all currently in the Committee on Rules where it will be decided whether or not to send them to the floor for a vote. Contact information is provided below to make it easy for you to call and/or write to the OR Legislature, Committee on Rules. Please let them know you oppose these troubling and misguided bills. They must be defeated! Talking points are provided below.
Bill SCR25 - condemns the non-violent movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). BDS is a movement answering the call of Palestinian civil society against Israel's ongoing violations of human rights. The movement works to end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and seeks to pressure Israel to comply with international law. If passed, this bill will have a chilling effect on criticism of Israel's human rights abuses; it could serve as a basis for other, more extreme bills such as have been introduced and passed in a number of other states. For more details about SCR25 see: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/SCR25
Bills SM1 and SJM9 are in opposition to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 which passed unanimously with only one abstention from the Obama administration. The UN resolution properly condemned Israel's ongoing and rapidly expanding settlement activity on Palestinian lands in support of international law and in support of longstanding U.S. policy that is opposed to Israeli settlements. You can read more at:
Action: Please call and write the Senators of the Senate Committee On Rules and our own OR Senators so they know that opposition to these bills is widespread and growing. See the contact information below or use the link above.
For more information about anti-BDS legislation across the country, including fact sheets see:
Talking points for SCR25, the anti-Boycott bill:
Boycotts are a protected form of free speech. Bills like this WILL be struck down in the Supreme Court, but only after states that pass anti-BDS bill have wasted taxpayer money defending the bills in court.
This is a waste of time for the legislators, who should focus their valuable time and energy addressing issues of REAL concern to Oregonians.
Boycott is a highly revered, time honored, non-violent part of our national heritage: The Montgomery bus boycott; boycott of South African apartheid; grape boycott to support farm workers from unfair labor practice; Boycotts of non-union shops to support workers’ right to organize. Boycott is a means to effect change when governments and corporations refuse to act.
In this increasingly repressive political climate under the Trump Administration, this bill would set a dangerous precedent, as it constitutes a first step towards undermining and preventing principled non-violent activism of concerned Oregon citizens.
The State of Oregon recognized the value of BDS activism when it sanctioned companies from doing business with Sudan because of human rights violations in Darfur.
The City of Portland recognized the value of BDS activism when it divested from the companies in the Fossil Fuel 200 and Walmart.
Legislation against boycotts and divestment threatens religious freedom. Many religious groups take seriously the ethics concerning their investments, and have clear religious and ethical guidelines regarding acceptable and unacceptable ways to use money. MANY mainline Christian denominations have, after much prayer and study, voted in favor of practicing some form of boycott, divestment or sanctions. Does the senator/representative really want to sign a bill that demonize these mainline denominations for taking these moral stands? (see below for a list)
The policies of any country should be held to account for violations of human rights and international law. Israel should not be given an exception in order to protect it from accountability.
There is significant and increasing Jewish support for the Palestinian call for BDS. Jewish Voice for Peace is one of the fastest growing Jewish organizations in the country. Israel's 50-year military occupation does not represent their values; they, too, are calling for boycotts, divestment, and governmental sanctions. See the recent statement, signed by over seventy-five members of Portland’s Jewish community in support of this kind of effort in the Portland City Council: http://jvpdx.occupationfreepdx.org/jcs/
These bills are replete with demonstrably false and highly debatable information, thus making those who sign it guilty of perpetrating the very sorts of "alternative facts" which are increasingly undermining public respect for government.
The proposed legislation is a blatant attempt to pass extreme and un-democratic legislation on behalf of right-wing Israeli and American Jews and American right-wing Christians and others. Giving legitimacy to these positions would be a frontal assault on freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Talking Points for SM1 and SJM9:
These bills are an assault on International Humanitarian law such as the Fourth Geneva Conventions which prohibit the taking and colonizing other people's land.
Israeli settlements are a major obstacle to peace, an assault on human rights, and are destructive to any peaceful resolution to the conflict. They are in violation of humanitarian international law and in opposition to US policy. (US policy has been consistent on this and in accord with international law since the 1967 war.)
Israel has greatly expanded construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land. Just this week, the Israeli government announced yet another settlement to compensate settlers for “losing” land they literally stole from a Palestinian. See: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/30/israel-approves-west-bank-settlements-trump-administration
Israel has greatly expanded its destruction of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and even in Israel itself.
Ban Ki-moon calls Israeli settlement expansion an 'affront' to the world. See:
Human Rights Watch calls on businesses to cease Israeli settlement-related activities. Seehttps://www.thenation.com/article/human-rights-watch-israel-settlements-bds/
Does the Oregon Legislature really want to insult and alienate Oregonians, constituents who place high value on our First Amendment right to boycott?
The following religious organizations have voted to boycott, divest or advocate for government sanctions in support of the human rights of Palestinians: Presbyterian Church U.S.A.; United Methodist Church; United Church of Christ; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Unitarian Universalist Association; Alliance of Baptists; Mennonite Central Committee; American Friends Service Committee; Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation; Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men; National Coalition of American Nuns; and Roman Catholic Pax Christi. Other religious denominations, including The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Mennonite Church USA, are also considering resolutions in support of BDS at their national assemblies this year.
ACTION: Contact the members of the Senate Committee on Rules:
Rules Committee members:
Chair: Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick (D) District 18 - Portland
Vice-Chair: Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R) District 30 - John Day
Member: Senator Lee Beyer (D) District 6 - Springfield
Member: Senator Brian Boquist (R) District 12 - Dallas, Oregon
Member: Senator Arnie Roblan (D) District 5 - Coos Bay
ACTION: Find your own State of Oregon representatives here:
Thank you for taking action!
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National Legislation (for your information):
US Congress - US Senate bi-partisan bill S 170
Combating BDS ACT 2017-2018 To provide for non-preemption of measures by State and local governments to divest from entities that engage in commerce-related or investment-related boycott, divestment, or sanctions activities targeting Israel, and for other purposes.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a State or local government may adopt and enforce measures that meet the requirements of subsection (b) to divest the assets of the State or local government from, prohibit investment of the assets of the State or local government in, or restrict contracting by the State or local government for goods and services …
Text of S 170: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/170/text
Sponsors: 12 Democrats and 20 Republicans; including OR Sen. Wyden;
If this passes, it will be challenged in the courts and will result in a civil rights case - First Amendment rights, US Constitution. Our right to participate in BDS was upheld by the US Supreme Court in 1982, NAACP vs Clairborn Hardware.