Israel-focused Anti-Boycott Legislation — A Template for Targeting Protest on Other Issues

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Back in 2018 I published an article entitled, U.S. Politicians Are Backing a Free Speech Exception for Israel — & Creating a Template for Broader Assault on the First Amendment. That analysis included the following warning:

“…lawmakers who support a free speech exception for Israel — whether for reasons of ideology or political expediency — run the risk of shoving the country down a very slippery slope that ends in a broad assault on the 1st Amendment.”

Starting in early 2021, my warning proved prescient, as states began using Israel-focused anti-boycott legislation as a template to quash free speech/protest on other issues, as documented in this table (which will be updated regularly).

And as of December 2021, ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council – is promoting new legislation “modeled explicitly on ‘anti-BDS’ bills written to counter the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions call from Palestinian civil society groups for economic actions against firms complicit in the Israeli occupation there” to targeting the climate policy. The bills “portray climate policy—even climate policy that doesn’t exist yet—as unfairly discriminating against fossil fuel companies.” Read more: Conservatives Have a New Bogeyman: Critical Energy Theory (The New Republic/Kate Aronoff, 12/7/21)