Presbyterian Church (USA)
asks Congress to support HR 496 on the right to boycott
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has sent a letter to the House of Representatives today urging support for H.Res. 496. The resolution led by Reps. Ilhan Omar, John Lewis, and Rashida Tlaib, affirms Americans’ right to boycott.
As reported by Presbyterian News Service, the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Director of the Office of Public Witness, issued an Action Alert on September 6th urging Presbyterians to support the right to boycott in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad.
Win Without War who also signed the letter as one of 40 organizations, stated today:
"This resolution is the first measure of its kind recognizing the historical importance of boycotts in advancing human rights and justice both at home and abroad. From the economic boycotts of apartheid South Africa to the Montgomery Bus boycotts against racial segregation, boycotts are a time-honored tool of political expression and social change that Congress should be defending – rather than seeking to criminalize this constitutionally-protected exercise of political beliefs it does not agree with.
"This resolution is crucial especially now in the aftermath of the restrictions that were placed on Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar’s travel to Israel, due to their political views and support of a social movement utilizing the right to boycott.
"In this era of rising authoritarianism around the world, there is a global divide between those who believe in freedom and equality for all, and those who justify repression on racial and religious supremacy. At a time when political expression is under attack both at home and abroad, it is imperative that Congress stand on the side of justice by affirming the right to boycott unjust policies that undermine equality and dignity for all no matter where these injustices occur."
Members of IPMN overtured the 223rd General Assembly in Saint Louis last summer in 2018 to approve language on the right to boycott. The overture, "On Opposition to Congressional and State Anti-BDS Legislation", passed 50 - 2 in the Middle East Committee and was approved through the Consent Agenda in Plenary.
IPMN continues to follow its General Assembly mandate to educate Presbyterians and advocate for the rights of Palestinians. We will continue to push for justice and be a part of the pro-justice efforts that brought this language to become policy in our denomination in 2018:
- Defend and advocate for the constitutional protection under the First Amendment for all United States citizens, religious and civic organizations, companies and corporations that exercise their freedoms of speech, association, and other civil rights to support measures of economic witness designed to bring those freedoms and rights to Palestinians and other persons living without full citizenship and under occupation.
- Oppose specific U.S. legislation to suppress measures of economic witness (boycott, divestment, sanctions, or BDS policies and strategies such as “The Israel Anti-Boycott Act,” Senate Bill (S) 720 and House Resolution (H.R.) 1697, which seek to impose civil and criminal penalties for nonviolent BDS resistance against human rights violations in Israel and Palestine.