US: Kansas judge tem­po­rar­ily sus­pends anti-BDS law

The Miracle - - Ational & Int -

A US judge has tem­po­rar­ily blocked the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a law that bars any­one from en­ter­ing into a con­tract with the state of Kansas with­out first pledg­ing they will not boy­cott Is­rael. US District Court judge Daniel Crab­tree granted the tem­po­rary in­junc­tion on Tues­day in re­sponse to a law­suit filed by Kansas pub­lic school teacher Es­ther Koontz late last year. Passed in June 2017, the Kansas leg­is­la­tion re­quires all state con­trac­tors to de­clare in writ­ing that they do not sup­port a boy­cott of Is­rael. Koontz ar­gues the law vi­o­lates her rights un­der the First Amend­ment. In his rul­ing, Crab­tree wrote: “The Supreme Court has held that the First Amend­ment pro­tects the right to par­tic­i­pate in a boy­cott like the one pun­ished by the Kansas law.” The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union (ACLU), which rep­re­sented Koontz in court, wel­comed the de­ci­sion. “The court has rightly recog­nised the se­ri­ous First Amend­ment harms be­ing in­flicted by this mis­guided law, which im­poses an un­con­sti­tu­tional ide­o­log­i­cal lit­mus test,” said ACLU at­tor­ney Brian Hauss in a state­ment. Koontz, a pub­lic school math teacher, was asked to sign a doc­u­ment say­ing she was not boy­cotting Is­rael in July 2017 be­fore she could work as a trainer in a state-run math and sci­ence pro­gramme, the court fil­ing states. How­ever she had be­gun boy­cotting Is­raeli com­pa­nies and Is­raeli com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in the oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries last year in protest of Is­rael’s treat­ment of Pales­tini­ans. After re­fus­ing to sign the form, she was not given the con­tract, the case states. “This rul­ing should serve as a warn­ing to govern­ment of­fi­cials around the coun­try that the First Amend­ment pro­hibits the govern­ment from sup­press­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in po­lit­i­cal boy­cotts,” Hauss said. Yousef Mu­nayyer, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the US Cam­paign for Pales­tinian Rights, wel­comed the court’s de­ci­sion, say­ing on Twit­ter that “the 1st Amend­ment tri­umphed to­day”. The Kansas leg­is­la­tion comes amid a grow­ing crack­down in the US on the Pales­tinian-led boy­cott, di­vest­ment and sanc­tions (BDS) move­ment. Launched in 2005, BDS seeks to pres­sure Is­rael to end its oc­cu­pa­tion of the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries and re­spect the rights of Pales­tinian refugees and Pales­tinian cit­i­zens of the state. Last Oc­to­ber, Wis­con­sin also passed a law bar­ring state agen­cies from en­ter­ing into con­tracts with en­ti­ties that are “en­gag­ing in a boy­cott of Is­rael”. Also in Oc­to­ber, the gover­nor of Mary­land signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der block­ing firms that boy­cott Is­rael from re­ceiv­ing state con­tracts that same month. As of this month, 24 states have en­acted anti-BDS laws, ac­cord­ing to Pales­tine Le­gal, a US-based le­gal ad­vo­cacy group. Eleven other states have anti-BDS leg­is­la­tion pend­ing. A US Se­nate bill, known as the Is­rael Anti-Boy­cott Act, has also been pro­posed and would bar US cit­i­zens from sup­port­ing “re­stric­tive trade prac­tices or boy­cotts fos­tered or im­posed by any in­ter­na­tional gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion against Is­rael”.

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