GOP Assault On Free Speech. “You must pledge allegiance to Israel and to the corporations for which we stand.” That’s the message given to state contractors by Republican legislatures in the more than 30 states that have passed draconian laws in reaction to the BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) movement, a movement designed to pressure Israel into ending human rights violations against Palestinians.
To discuss the issue, Steve Williamson and Karen McClelland welcome Mik Jordahl and Suhad Babaa. Jordahl is an attorney who has pursued lawsuits against states that have passed such laws. Babaa is the executive director of Just Vision and the producer of Boycott, a 2021 documentary film that chronicles the experiences of people who have refused to sign away their rights.
“We are in the midst of one of the most consequential First Amendment battles this country has seen in decades,” says Babaa in explaining what led her to create the film. “When we saw that there were laws being passed in states across the United States that were aiming to suppress the ability of Americans to express their political dissatisfaction with Israeli policies toward Palestinians, and that Americans like Mik were being asked to sign a pledge that they would not engage in boycotts of Israel if they wanted to maintain public contracts with their state, we knew it was a really important story to follow.”
Jordahl expresses his attitude toward the laws this way: “They’re talking about my own money. If I want to boycott Walmart or Chicken McNuggets that’s up to me. But I am sure as hell not going to give away my constitutional rights to a foreign government.”
According to Babaa, Republicans are using similar laws to prevent Americans from expressing their views against other entities. “This isn’t just about Israel/Palestine. In recent months, in the last year in particular, several states including Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Indiana and beyond, have introduced or passed bills that punish companies for boycotting the fossil fuels industry as well as the weapons and ammunitions industries. You’ve already seen these bills pass in Texas and they went into effect, actually, on September 1 of 2021 in Texas,” she warns.