Hundreds of U.S. congressmen are sponsoring bills that would make it a federal crime to support the international boycott of Israel and Israeli products.
The proposed legislation seeks to criminalize support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Those who disregard the proposed law would face a fine ranging from $250,000 to $1 million and 20 years in prison, according to The Intercept.
Even boycotting products from Israeli settlements – which are internationally recognized as illegal – would be penalized under the legislation.
Despite the fact that the bill severely curbs an individual's freedom of speech - a right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution - 43 members of the Senate and 234 members of the House of Representatives have backed the legislation thus far.
"The bill would punish businesses and individuals based solely on their point of view. Such a penalty is in direct violation of the First Amendment," the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in an official statement, strongly opposing the legislation.
Proponents of the law argue that it helps fight discrimination and antisemitism toward Jews. But as those who boycott Israel reiterate over and over, they do not stand against Jews. In fact, many prominent Jewish individuals and organizations have thrown their support behind the BDS movement, becoming some of the staunchest critics of the Israeli state and Zionism.
"The ACLU has long supported laws prohibiting discrimination, but this bill cannot fairly be characterized as an anti-discrimination measure, as some would argue," the ACLU said.
While the bill has garnered significant bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats, it was crafted with the help of the immensely powerful Israeli lobby group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
The staunchly right-wing Zionist organization is widely perceived to be one of the most powerful lobby groups in the U.S., with politicians seeing their careers rise and fall based on the organization's approval.
Many are voicing their opposition to the oppressive bill
Including a well-known American actor
A very ironic point...
The bill isn't the first of its kind in the West
Just this week, France's new President Emanuel Macron said that opposition to Zionism is "a reinvention of anti-Semitism."
Meanwhile, Palestinians continue to suffer daily discrimination, attacks, and murder at the hands of Israeli occupiers. Activists have been using BDS as a peaceful tool of resistance, standing in solidarity with Palestinians.
Now, as Western governments align, this peaceful activism is under serious threat.