It’s tough to be in favor of the Jewish State’s right to exist while wishing to wipe of the map the homes of more than half a million Jews. A case in point is Americans for Peace Now, who say they are “deeply concerned” as close to half of US states have already passed legislation which APN claims “denies American citizens their constitutional right to protest the occupation through boycotts.”
It’s tough to be a partial Israel hater. APN is on the record as opposing boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel—that’s pre-1967 Israel, mind you, the one that defeated three Arab armies dead set on destroying it. On the other hand, APN “supports boycotting Israeli settlements in the West Bank as a legitimate way to protest the settlements and the occupation.”
So far so good – consumer boycotts are a healthy part of the democratic process, even if driven by barely concealed anti-Semitism.
Such as the case of one Esther Koontz, a Kansas math teacher and trainer, selected as a contractor in a statewide teacher training program administered by the Kansas Department of Education. Kansas law required that Koontz certify that she does not boycott Israel, including boycotting companies profiting from settlements in Judea and Samaria.
Koontz is a member of the Mennonite Church, a staunch supporter of BDS, and so, as a faithful Israel-hater, she could not sign on to such a commitment. How could she not avoid purchasing goods and services from Israeli companies and international companies doing business with Israeli settlements, when Jesus himself—speaking through the elders of her church—commands her to do the opposite?
As a result, the Kansas Department of Education kicked Koontz out of the teacher training program.
In June, Kansas became the 21st US state to enact anti-BDS legislation, promoted by Governor Sam Brownback. The ACLU took Kansas to court, saying the new law violates the First Amendment rights of anti-Israel contractors wishing to do business with the Simply Wonderful (used to be “as big as you think”) state. But until a Republican-majority Supreme Court says otherwise, Kansas will not do business with the likes of Esther Koontz.
Some states are even tougher (and less particular) in their stance against Israel-boycotters: according to APN, some Texas residents who applied for hurricane relief from their local municipality were required to certify that they do not and will not boycott Israel or Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria for the duration of the term of their support. It ended up being a misunderstanding of state law by local bureaucrats, which only clarified even further how strong is the objection of rank and file Americans to BDS attacks on Israel.
APN’s President and CEO Debra DeLee complained that “this legislative avalanche across the fifty states is not only trampling free speech but is also severely hindering the effort of pro-Israel organizations such as ours to differentiate between the State of Israel, which we love and support, and its occupation of the West Bank…”
In other words, in a cantankerous and extremist media environment, Americans for Peace Now are unable to drive through the admittedly subtle point of loving Israel but hating Israeli settlers (which, incidentally, also include close to a quarter million Jewish residents of eastern Jerusalem and a few thousand Israelis living in the Jordan Valley and on the Golan Heights). And so, as often happens in such cases, they are pushed into a yes/no corner regarding BDS – making them even less relevant than before.
In the end, APN’s fundamental error—common across the dwindling Left everywhere—is in not recognizing the will of the voter when it supports, through democratically elected officials, laws that strongly push back leftist agendas. Esther Koontz et al are not prohibited to exercise their right to boycott whomever they hate – they just can’t do it on a salary from the State of Kansas.
As to the folks in Texas seeking hurricane relief – they probably don’t have the required funds to boycott anyone. Perhaps they should turn for help to one of the Israeli rescue missions, some of whom arrived there from – you guessed – Judea and Samaria.