Why Can’t I Represent Incarcerated Arizonians if I Boycott Israel?

Mik Jordahl on a trip to Tel Aviv, Israel.

This piece was originally published by The Arizona Daily Star.

Each year, I renew a contract to provide legal services to incarcerated people in an Arizona county jail.

I have been doing this for 12 years without complications. Lately, though, there has been some extra paperwork that has nothing to do with my work as an attorney. Now, in order to renew my contract, I am being asked to promise that I will not participate in a boycott of Israel.

Arizona adopted a law in 2016 that prohibits the state, along with any of its towns, cities or counties, from contracting with entities that support even the limited boycott of products produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Local governmental contracts throughout Arizona now contain this political litmus test.

By design, this pledge inhibits my constitutionally protected right to protest injustices as I see them and spend my money where and how I please if I want to keep doing a job that I care about.

For many years, almost every country in the world has deemed Israeli settlements in the occupied territories to be in violation of international law. Yet our government will be giving $40 billion in taxpayer assistance to Israel over the next 10 years and won’t withhold even a portion of that funding, in spite of continuing settlement expansion and its devastating effect on a two-state solution.

My interest in the Israeli-Palestinian issue isn’t new. I have visited the region previously. I raised a Jewish son. Last spring, he and I traveled together to Israel and Palestine. We met journalists, human rights advocates, Israelis, and Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank. No one we talked to believed that Israel would ever dismantle the more than 100 Israeli settlements peppered through the West Bank. It was painfully clear to us that Israel will not stop, and in fact has accelerated, its de facto policy of permanent Israeli occupation. On the other hand, it will never allow equal rights for the 2.8 million West Bank Palestinians in a single state.

In the face of U.S. financial support for Israel, the boycott movement has become one of the most effective forms of protest against Israel’s violations of international law. The boycott of settlement products and companies that support them has been formally endorsed, in one form or another, by Lutheran, Episcopalian, Mennonite, Methodist, Unitarian, Quaker, and Presbyterian denominations, as well as organizations, such as Jewish Voice for Peace, the World Council of Churches, and Amnesty International.

Rational minds can disagree on whether the movement to boycott the occupation is effective or even appropriate. But do our Arizona legislators need to chip away at our First Amendment rights to express our opinions on this issue? By this logic, what would limit Arizona’s legislature from deciding they won’t do business with people and companies that support a boycott of Trump family businesses, or tobacco companies, or even the Democratic Party?

From the Montgomery bus boycott to boycotts of apartheid-era South Africa, this peaceful form of protest has long been protected by the Constitution. No matter where you stand on the issue of Israel and Palestine, it should be clear that we as individuals have a right to engage in peaceful individual boycotts and a right to not spend our private monies in the way we choose.

Mik Jordahl is the plaintiff in a federal lawsuit recently filed by the ACLU challenging Arizona’s anti-boycott law. He is a practicing lawyer. The views expressed in this post are those of the author; the ACLU does not take a position on boycotts of Israel.

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Lee

Lets get some things straightened out. One Israel started all the wars in the area their Arab nations were never the aggressors. Two there were 134 sailors murdered on the USS Forrestal claiming it was an Egyptian ship though it was flying American flag. And whoever the unamed person throwing around the Antisemitism label screw you. Anybody interested should read Miko Peleds book the Generals son exposes a lot of bullshit that has been fed to Israelis and westerners about what was really going on.

Anonymous

USS Liberty, not the Forrestal.

Ron Austin

I fully support anyone that is willing to back the Palestinians that is being held in a concentration camp by the Zionist terrorists...

S

Why do you consider Israelis living in the West Bank, living on illegal settlements, but Arabs living in Israel are not settlers?

This is a very hypocritical post and show utter ignorance about the matters on the ground.

Coming from a person who has been to the region and studied it for over 25 years, this post displays a rather uneducated and ignorant view of this matter.

Do you not consider the hundreds of millions of dollars the US provides to the Palestinians as aid that should be stopped? It is factual, that that money is being paid to families who have sent suicide bombers to murder Americans and Israelis.

My tax payer money going to pay for terrorist activities? But you are focused on Israelis living in the West Bank? And boycotting Israeli goods?

The US is the largest provider of aid to UNRWA, which is the largest employer in the West Bank. Which contributes and aides terrorists in the area. Please look up documented incidents, including abductions of Israeli soldiers with the aid of UNRWA.

If you have ever been to ISrael, you would have seen with your own eyes how different races and religions live freely in Israel without judgment. Regardless of faith, sexual orientation, people have freedom of speech.

Israelis, Jews get SHOT and stabbed in the West Bank. You need private security to enter the premises. Hardly the sight of an evolved and secure people.

elle

Fuck the terrorist Israeli government and double fuck the white trash run,facist state of AZ!
I FULLY support any and ALL corporations or individuals boycotting ANYTHING Israeli!

Al Bi

How could this law been approved in the first place???
How can the Israelian government have such strong hold in the US??

How coul Arizona adopt a law in 2016 that prohibits the state, along with any of its towns, cities or counties, from contracting with entities that support even the limited boycott of products produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank???

When Israel is to Palestine as Nazis were to Jews...???

Anonymous

Let me get this straight, You can't criticize the agenda of Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Ethnic without being anti-Semitic?

Also Ethnically Jewish people marrying outside the faith are committing an abomination?

Why are Jewish and Teutonic Racial Purity judged by different standards? Or are they?

Also is it Anti-Christian Bigotry to be crittical of someone like David Duke?

Why do all the Muslim haters "Kid Glove" Saudi Arabia even though ISIS comes from that exact same Sect and Denomination of Islam?

Is i

Anonymous

I have zero respect for Arizona, the state that didn’t allow native people eyomvoye until 1948, that hasn’t twomsenators who continue to steal sacred native lands, that love that racist arpiao, that Avila profile...no state ha sthe right to tell anyone who they can and cannot boycott..

Israel is doing the exact same thing that this ocuntry did to us, the original people of this land. How does protesting the Parthenon and detention of 16 year old girls like Ahed Tamimi equal anti-semitism? How about basic human rights? This is disgusting....and unconstitutional...but when did Arizona ever care about equality?

Anonymous

How did such a stupid law ever get passed here in AZ anyway, and why was it so far off the radar?

Anonymous

The author should do some more research on BDS. The founder of BDS, Palestinian, Omar Bargouti made it clear that BDS’s goal is to maintain a complete boycott on Israel and “to end Israel’s existence as a Jewish State.” If it only boycotted products from occupied territory, why does it bully artists not to perform in Israel at all, rather than encouraging them to perform in TLV and Ramallah?

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