BDS and Academic Freedom

Updated: Mar 15, 2020

Rana Jaleel argues in the November-December 2016 issue of Academe that the boycott, disinvestment, and sanctions movement (BDS) movement's many opponents are now using the anti-boycott sentiment to actually inhibit academic freedom rather than promote it through anti-BDS legislation at the state level. Below is an excerpt from her 2016 writing. We provide updated links from Palestine Legal for the latest 2017-2018 legislation from each state cited to demonstrate how state legislatures are continuously weaponizing anti-boycott arguments:

"Over the last several years, a groundswell of legislation introduced at the local, state, and federal levels has taken aim at human rights activism related to Palestine, specifically the BDS. According to Jewish Voice for Peace, as of August 2016, twenty-two states had introduced or passed anti-BDS legislation that seeks to deny public funding to organizations that choose to participate in the BDS movement. This year alone saw anti-BDS laws enacted in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. Similar legislative initiatives are being organized in dozens of other states. Meanwhile, in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an anti-BDS executive order, and in New Jersey, another anti-BDS bill passed the legislature. Eugene Kontorovich, a law professor at Northwestern University who has consulted with groups advancing anti-BDS legislation, describes the turn to legal activism as an attempt to 'use state contracting power to fight back against racism.'"

"Teaching Palestine: The Importance of Bringing the Israel-Palestine Conflict Into the Mainstream"

by Rana Jaleel

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