The ACLU sent this letter in advance of the House Appropriations subcommittee markup of the FY 2017 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, to express opposition to any amendment that would condone state laws penalizing businesses and individuals who express support for a boycott, divestment, or sanctions (“BDS”) against Israel. Such a proposal was attached to the Senate version of the bill last week, and its intent is contrary to the spirit and letter of the First Amendment guarantee of freedoms of speech and association. The so-called BDS movement aims to bring international pressure on Israel to change its policies and actions with respect to Palestine and Palestinians. In response, at least 22 states have considered or adopted bills to bar the state from doing any business with or investing in businesses or individuals who express support for the BDS movement. These measures share the same core, and discriminate solely on the basis of the viewpoint of those impacted.
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