December 23, 2018 — Washington, D.C.
This piece originally appeared in The Washington Post.
RE: “The storm gathering around BDS,” December 19
Anti-BDS laws neither prohibit expressing criticism of Israel nor infringe on the right to engage in political boycotts.
Rather, such laws protect a state’s access to the full range of options when purchasing goods and services. For example, a state contracting for medicines should not be denied access to drugs manufactured by Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals. Someone choosing not to do business with Teva as a way of protesting Israeli policy can do so but has no right to insist that a state participate in the boycott.
Bahia Amawi, the Texas teacher denied employment in a public school for not signing a certificate saying she would not boycott Israel, did not seek to get the state of Texas to participate in her private boycott, and therefore she should not have been denied employment. It does not follow that anti-BDS laws are invalid.
The BDS movement is not a civil rights movement and does not advocate a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian peace. Its founder, Omar Barghouti, has explicitly called for the elimination of Israel. If people are interested in coexistence and peace, they should join other movements.
Alan Ronkin, Washington
The writer is director of the American Jewish Committee Washington Region.