Friday, June 24, 2016

New Jersey Residents Take Action

Dear Bob,
It’s 2016, but in the New Jersey Assembly it could as well be the McCarthy era. Attacks on the right to boycott as a human rights tool are under attack in the chambers of our legislature.
Bob, this coming Monday the New Jersey Assembly is scheduled to vote on an amended version of Assembly Bill A925. This bill continues to suppress the rights of New Jerseyans, and we must continue to oppose it. Our right to participate in boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns for Palestinian rights are under attack by our own representatives.
Last month, a committee of the Assembly held hearings on the bill, with less than 24 hours advance notice and JVP of Northern NJ rushed down to Trenton to testify against it. Our chapter has joined with other groups in the state to oppose this legislation.  We have been reaching out to our local representatives, but our electeds are hearing from many more pro-Occupation anti-Democracy opposition forces, who’ve arranged one-sided trips to Israel for state lawmakers. Legislators need to hear more from supporters of civil liberties and Palestinian human rights.
Join me in sending your New Jersey legislators a message today: A925 is a a McCarthyite attack on the first amendment rights of New Jerseyans.
As the ACLU of New Jersey has pointed out, this bill will have a chilling effect on the free speech rights of us all.  You and I both know that boycotts are a time-honored tactic used by social movements working for freedom and justice. The grassroots BDS movement for Palestinian rights should not be singled out as an exception to free speech protections for political speech. And you and I should be able to make our own decisions, grounded in our conscience, on human rights inspired boycotts, without punishment from the state.
Tell them you are opposing A925’s attack on free speech and political speech, and expect them to oppose it this Monday in the legislature.
This bill prohibits the state from investing pension funds in any company that boycotts either Israel or the Israeli-occupied territories. To achieve this, the state of New Jersey would be hiring a research firm to investigate the political views of company owners, and then create a list, a blacklist. The State of New Jersey would be creating a blacklist, with our tax dollars.
This is blatantly unconstitutional. We are working with a broad coalition of groups across the state who are appalled at this legislation, whether or not they engage in human rights boycotts. Legal, civil rights and community organizations across the state oppose this bill because it infringes on our basic rights.
Stephen Shalom
Jewish Voice for Peace - North New Jersey