Federal Court Strikes Down Law Requiring State Contractors To Promise They Won’t Boycott Israel

A Federal Judge In Kansas has blocked enforcement of a state law barring anyone who does business with the state from engaging in a boycott of Israel.

Last week, a Federal District Court Judge blocked a Kansas law requiring anyone doing business with the state to certify that they are not engaging in a boycott of Israel:

A federal judge has blocked Kansas from enforcing a state law that requires state contractors to promise they will not boycott Israel.

Judge Daniel Crabtree issued the order on Tuesday in an ongoing challenge to the anti-boycott law brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Gov. Sam Brownback, who signed the requirement into law last year, sounded a defiant note.

“I think they will lose on appeal,” Brownback said of the ACLU. “I think this judge — these have been, these types of laws have been passed for years at the federal level. Whether it’s on Iran or really a number, South Africa and apartheid. You’ve had laws like this for years and they’ve been upheld.”

Esther Koontz, a curriculum coach at Horace Mann Dual Language Magnet School in Wichita, is suing to block the law. The ACLU is representing her.

Koontz refused to sign a certification that she is not participating in a boycott of Israel.

Koontz is qualified to train teachers statewide as a contractor with the Kansas Department of Education’s Math and Science Partnerships program. But the state won’t give her new assignments under the law.

“Today’s ruling marks a notable victory for the First Amendment,” Micah Kubic, director of the ACLU of Kansas, said in a statement. “The government has no right telling people what they can and can’t support, and this preliminary injunction will protect other Kansans from enduring the First Amendment violation that Ms. Koontz has endured.”

Crabtree’s order blocks enforcement of the law while the lawsuit continues. In a written order, Crabtree found “that the continuing harm to plaintiff’s First Amendment rights — and those of persons similarly situated — outweighs defendant’s speculative suggestion that an injunction will harm” the state of Kansas or its merchants.

Vera Eidelman at the ACLU’s blog has more details: (Note that the ACLU represents the Plaintiff in this litigation)

The Kansas law requires that any person or company that contracts with the state sign a statement that they are “not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel.” The ACLU brought the lawsuit in October on behalf of Esther Koontz, a schoolteacher who refused to sign the certification. Today’s decision, an important victory for political speech, will allow her to resume her work. Thanks to the order, Kansas is prohibited from enforcing its law while the case proceeds.

This is the first ruling to address a recent wave of laws nationwide aiming to punish people who boycott Israel, and it should serve as a warning to other states with similar provisions, including one we are challenging in Arizona. It correctly recognizes that forcing an individual to choose between exercising their rights and contracting with the state is unconstitutional.


Esther is a veteran math teacher and trainer who was told she would need to sign the certification statement in order to participate in a state program training other math teachers. She boycotts consumer goods and services produced by Israeli companies and international companies operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. She does so in order to protest the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians and to pressure the government to change its policies. As a result, she could not in good conscience sign the statement and thus couldn’t participate in the state program.

The Kansas law, and others like it that have been adopted by various states concerns the so-called Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions Movement, or “BDS” for short, which seeks to persuade nations, international organizations, and corporations to stop doing business with Israel until that nation “meets its obligations under international law.” In recent years, the movement has become more controversial due to both its tactics and the rhetoric that it uses, which many have claimed has become increasingly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, and many states have adopted their own version of laws prohibiting government entities, corporations, and individuals from taking part in or advocating in favor of the boycott that the BDS movement is seeking to promote. Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether or not the question of whether the claims that the BDS movement and its supporters make about Israel and its policies are accurate, or the more serious allegations that many of the people associated with the movement are anti-Semitic rather than simply being opposed to the current policies of the State of Israel, it seems clear to me that laws like this are indeed unconstitutional and the Judge Crabtree got the ruling pretty much right.

Based on existing First Amendment precedent, it seems clear that the Kansas law in this case, which also effectively requires someone in the Plaintiff’s position to engage in politically motivated speech by signing an oath that they have not and will not engage in certain types of political activity, is unconstitutional.

For example, in 1931 the Supreme Court held in Stromberg v. California that a California law barring the display of red flags in public was unconstitutional, ruling that peaceful conduct that was not disruptive of public order was “repugnant” to the Constitution. Fourteen years later, the Court ruled in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, that the First Amendment protected the rights of students who refused to take part in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. In ruling in that case, Justice Robert Jackson noted that the very purpose of the Bill of Rights was to remove certain subjects, such as freedom of speech from “the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts.” Some twenty-four years later, in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the Court held that a school district could not bar students from wearing black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. Two years after that, the Court ruled in Cohen v. California that a defendant could not be punished for wearing a jacket that said “Fuck the Draft” in a public place, saying that the act the law was aimed at punished “speech” rather than “conduct.” In 1989, the Court ruled in Texas v. Johnson that laws criminalizing burning the American flag were an unconstitutional abridgment of the First Amendment and that the burning of the flag constituted expressive conduct that was clearly within the boundaries of the First Amendment. More recently, the Court held in Snyder v. Phelps that the Westboro Baptist Church could not be punished for holding protests on public property outside the funerals of American soldiers who had died in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is the Supreme Court’s ruling in NAACP v Claiborne Hardware, which served as the primary basis for Judge Crabtree’s ruling. In this 1982 case, the Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous 8-0 vote (Justice Thurgood Marshall took no part in the case due I would assume to his long-standing relationship with the NAACP prior to joining the Supreme Court), the Court ruled that states cannot prohibit peaceful political advocacy in favor of a boycott undertaken for political means. While the case is obviously a freedom of speech case, a good part of the Court’s opinion in Claiborne deals with a seemingly ridiculous argument in defense of the law that was made by the lawyers for a group that consisted of merchants in Port Gibson, Mississippi that were being subjected to a boycott by civil rights activists. That argument was that the organizers of the boycott were violating Mississippi’s equivalent of the Sherman Antitrust Act by diverting African-American customers of white-owned businesses to businesses owned by minorities. Additional claims against the boycott movement included claims of tortious interference with business relationships and violation of a state law barring so-called “secondary boycotts.” In its decision, the Court rejected those claims and ruled that the claims against the boycotters were protected by the First Amendment, holding that  “boycotts and related activities to bring about political, social and economic change are political speech, occupying “the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.”

What all these cases add up to is the conclusion that behavior, such as engaging in a politically-motivated boycott, is clearly protected by the First Amendment. In his ruling, Judge Crabtree held that the Kansas law in question violated the First Amendment because it sought to deprive the Plaintiff of a benefit that she was entitled to under the law based purely on political criteria and a requirement that she certify that she would not engage in certain kinds of political activity.  As Judge Crabtree put it in the opinion, ”the First Amendment protects the right to participate in a boycott.” In reaching this conclusion, the Judge found that the central purpose of the Kansas law was to punish those who wish to engage in political activity, in this case, people who wish to make a political statement by boycotting companies that do business with the state of Israel. As the Judge notes in his opinion, is made apparent by the law’s own authors;  ”The Kansas Law’s legislative history reveals that its goal is to undermine the message of those participating in a boycott of Israel. This is either viewpoint discrimination against the opinion that Israel mistreats Palestinians or subject matter discrimination on the topic of Israel.” Given that the law seeks to deny a benefit that everyone is entitled to based solely on the fact that the state does not approve of their political views and manner in which they choose to peacefully advocate those views, it seems clear that Judge Crabtree’s ruling is the correct one.

What Judge Crabtree did last month is important because it upholds the principle that the state cannot punish an individual merely because it disapproves of the political views they hold or the manner in which they choose to express those views. This seems like an axiomatic application of basic First Amendment law, of course, but it’s likely to face a serious challenge at the appellate level as the State of Kansas has already indicated that they will appeal the temporary injunction that Judge Crabtree put in place. As long as that injunction is in place, though, Kansas cannot require teachers such as the Plaintiff or other state residents to certify that they are not engaging in conduct that is clearly protected by the First Amendment. While the ruling itself has no legal effect outside of Kansas, it stands as an important signal that using the power of the state to impose what amounts to viewpoint discrimination is neither permissible nor acceptable. In that respect, one hopes it will be seen as persuasive authority well beyond the boundaries of the Sunflower State and that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold this ruling when it reaches them on appeal.

Here’s the opinion:

Koontz v Watson by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, Africa, Law and the Courts, Middle East, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. TM01 says:

    Does a bakery doing business with the State have to certify that they will bake cakes for a gay wedding?

  2. TM01 says:
  3. michael reynolds says:

    A note on boycotts of Israel. According to Freedom House Israel has a score of 80, with 100 being the max. Sweden scores 100. The US scores 89. Israel is at 80.

    Saudi Arabia scores a 10. Boycott? Nope.
    Turkey: 38. Boycott? Nope.
    Pakistan: 43. Boycott? Nope.
    Ecuador: 57. Boycott? Nope.
    Philippines: 63. Boycott? Everyone knows the answer.

    The ONLY country being subjected to this kind of economic attack is Israel. Israel, which outscores every other nation in the region, outscores of every African nation except Benin and Ghana, outscores China, outscores Russia, outscores India. . . in fact, Israel’s human rights record is about two points off South Korea, a country we are willing to die to protect.

    What is it that sets Israel apart? Oh. . . right. Jews. Of all the nations on earth there is exactly 1 Jewish majority country and by shocking coincidence there is only 1 nation under this sort of economic attack over human rights, despite that Jewish state being in the top tier of nations on human rights.

  4. TM01 says:

    @michael reynolds:
    Imagine that.

    Something we appear to agree on.

    BDS is completely anti-Semitic.

  5. @michael reynolds:


    Criticizing israeli policy and engaging in politically motivated activity based on that criticism is not anti-Semitism.

    You are free of course to accuse the people who share the point of view of the Plaintiff in this matter of hypocrisy for not being critical of similar or worse policies on the parts of other nations, but accusing them of something (being anti-Jewish) for which there is no evidence before us is not legitimate in my opinion.

    Addition, raising the argument that boils down to “Why aren’t you criticizing other other nations?” seems to me like a classic example of the logical fallacy known as Tu quoque, or what has recently come to be known as “Whataboutism.”

    I express no opinion on whether or not the BDS movement is justified, and I can’t speak to whether or not some of the people that are part of it are motivated by prejudice. I am merely stating that laws that seek to prevent people from engaging in politically motivated activity such as a boycott are, in my opinion, clearly unconstitutional

  6. grumpy realist says:

    OT, but Whoops:

    Earlier this week, under pressure from Tory Brexiteers, Downing Street ruled out UK membership of a customs union with the EU after Brexit, in order to preserve an ability to sign independent trade deals with non-EU countries.

    Mr Tsuruoka [Japanese ambassador] said he would not answer “hypothetical” questions about future UK customs relations with the EU, but said it is “expected that manufacturing business in particular will continue to have the free access to the European market”.

    Speaking as someone who worked in Japan for many years, what the Ambassador is in fact saying is “better get free access to the EU or we’re out of here PRONTO!!!”

  7. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: I’ll bite.

    Isreal’s settlement of the occupied lands is making the possibility of a two state solution an impossibility. It is counterproductive. The Palestinian conflict has spilled out of the region on a number of instances, and our support of Israel in this conflict has been one of the drivers for anti-American attitudes in the Arab world.

    Most of the people I know who boycott Israeli products are Jews. The rest of us don’t even know where Sodastream is located. (And the Jews I know are divided on the matter, often within the same family)

    There’s a belief that the Jews in Israel should know better — Jews in Europe and the US have been attacked and marginalized and discriminated against, and the Jews in Israel should be better than that with the Palestinians. This is a ridiculous belief that involves not understanding human behavior, but a lot of people have it, again, more among American Jews.

    And there is a belief that Israel is more likely to be motivated to change than countries like Pakistan. Pursue the changes that can reasonably happen.

    Further, Netanyahu has injected Israel into the right-wing side of America’s political polarization. A substantial amount of anti-Israeli sentiment in this country on the left is a reflection of that. This was a very dumb thing for Netanyahu to have done, by the way, as his country is surrounded by enemies and needs our support more than we need theirs.

    (Plus there are a bunch of anti-Semites. One can never completely discount the bigots, but you can’t just assume anti-Israeli sentiment is the same as anti-Semitism)

  8. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: I’ll add that I don’t think the boycotts are going to be effective.

    If we want to drive the Israelis to make the hard choices to get to peace, the right thing to do is go over there and start registering Palestinians to vote. That will terrify the Israelis like nothing else.

    (Right now, the Palestinians generally refuse Israeli citizenship)

  9. michael reynolds says:

    BDS precedes Netanyahu, who I despise.

    Essentially you are making the argument that we should judge Israel by a different set of standards than we apply to others. A higher bar. Turn it around, and you’re saying that Saudis and Pakistanis and Filipinos are not capable of reaching the level of responsibility for their actions because. . . what, exactly? Too primitive?

    Venezuela is a western country, as is Cuba, as is Brazil which has a score essentially identical to Israel. Where are the calls for boycotting them? BDS is a leftist creation, we can’t blame this on Trump or Republicans. If the BDS supporters are concerned with human rights, why are they not boycotting the Philippines a US ally?

    I’m sorry but this is not a coincidence. Only 1 Jewish state, only one boycott, hundreds of worse offenders they could pick on.

  10. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds: Go Ghana! (Speaking as a former Peace Corps Volunteer there, 88-90).

    While many may be motivated by anti-semitism, there are those of us who feel that Israel has moved steadily into apartheid. As a country, they have an existential dilemma – either give every person under their rule the right to vote, or withdraw from the occupied territories.

    Israel has existed, from its birth, in a terrible struggle. It was created at the point of a gun during the twilight of the millennia long practice of the “right of conquest” whereby a new ruler or government was recognized as legitimate simply because they were able to seize control. Despite that, the founders heroically tried to build a robust democracy. But they recognized that the practice of democracy is incompatible with having a majority of residents antithetical to the very existence of the country itself, and so they carefully drew the borders to enclose the fewest non-Jews possible and then drove many that remained from their homes and seized their land. They gave the remaining non-Jews the right to vote, but also implemented a de facto policy of never forming a government with an Arab party if they would be unable to form a government without it, i.e. the Arabs could never be the deciding factor. In a parliamentary system, this takes away the single biggest form of influence a non-majority party can have. Still, Israel might have overcome this, with the non-Jews increasingly seeing themselves as Israelis and demands for rights culminating in the eventual full integration into the body politic. Ugly, but no country has ever been formed in butterflies and rainbows.

    Unfortunately, this was thwarted when the surrounding countries refused to absorb the people the Israelis had evicted. Instead they remained in refugee camps, nurturing their hatred of those that had robbed them and becoming a cause celebre in the region. It led to war and the Israelis ended up reabsorbing these millions of Palestinians into the country without giving them the right to vote or to practice meaningful self rule. The Palestinians have used horrible despicable and self defeating means to wage guerrilla war against Israel, and the Israelis have used their Army to brutally put down this guerrilla campaign.

    This generations long blood bath, coupled with an influx of Western European and Russian immigrants, people who were not raised with democracy and respect for others, and the Israeli government has decided they will give up on the two state solution.

    I supported Israeli when I felt they were legitimately trying to find a solution to a nearly impossible situation. But that is no longer the case. That policy effectively ended when the no-compromise faction assassinated the Israeli Prime Minister because he was pursuing peace, and were rewarded with longer and longer terms in government.

    At this point, there is no one with significant power on either the Palestinian or Israeli side that is still attempting to reach a settlement. Yet we continue to support one side over the other, and do so while it has accepted that it is an apartheid country. By permanently occupying the home to millions and giving them no voice, they have chosen. The next step is to implement something like South Africa did and by economics and water rights manipulation, drive the Palestinians from the land and put settlers in their place.

    So just as I think it was right and inevitable that we eventually stopped supporting South Africa, I think it is inevitable that we will eventually stop supporting Israel.

  11. @MarkedMan:

    Israel faces two choices in its immediate future. Either it pursues a two-state solution with the Palestinians, or it follows the call of some of the hardliners around Netanyahu and decides that the only solution is one state consisting of both populations. The first option, of course, requires willing partners on the Palestinian side and that seems as lacking as it presently is on the Israeli side. The second option would likely have to be enforced at the point of a gun, could lead to another Middle East war, and would require Israel to eventually make the choice between being a democratic state and being a Jewish state.

  12. Zachriel says:

    @michael reynolds: A note on boycotts of Israel. According to Freedom House Israel has a score of 80, with 100 being the max.

    That score does not include the West Bank, which is still largely under Israeli occupation. The West Bank scores 28/100. Also of note, Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem did not extend citizenship to Palestinians who live there.

  13. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: We have more influence over Isreal than we do over Pakistan, and we would have to nudge those countries a lot further. Why push a boulder up a mountain, when you can push a boulder up a mole hill?

    And, yes, we generally do have higher expectations of democracies than we do of dictatorships. Particularly democracies that are basically our client states.

  14. Gustopher says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Comparing the reactions to two similar situations, aka Whataboutism, is an entirely reasonable thing to do to determine if you (or others) have an unacknowledged bias. In bad faith, it can be used to disrupt any conversation, but it’s useful when applied in good faith.

    I don’t think Michael Reynolds has actually found similar situations though.

  15. SKI says:


    Israel has existed, from its birth, in a terrible struggle. It was created at the point of a gun during the twilight of the millennia long practice of the “right of conquest” whereby a new ruler or government was recognized as legitimate simply because they were able to seize control. Despite that, the founders heroically tried to build a robust democracy. But they recognized that the practice of democracy is incompatible with having a majority of residents antithetical to the very existence of the country itself, and so they carefully drew the borders to enclose the fewest non-Jews possible and then drove many that remained from their homes and seized their land.

    Some factual problems here…

    First, the conflict long predates the formation of the state of Israel. Example: in late 1800s, there were roughly an equal amount of Jews and Arabs west of the Jordan. It wasn’t until the White Paper There was fighting and conflict back when the area was ruled by the Turks and it certainly continued under the Mandate. There was a reason the Peel Commission existed at all – because of the ongoing violence.

    As an aside, it should be noted that, at that time, the Arabs living in that land didn’t consider themselves Palestinian but Syrans. Abd al-Hadi, an elected spokeman of the Palestinian Arabs, testified in front of the Peel Commission that the concept of being Palestinian itself was a Zionist invention. Similarly, most residents of the West Bank area captured by Israel in ’67 considered themselves Jordanian, not Palestinian.

    Second, while some Arabs were indeed forced from their homes by Jews in ’48, they are a fraction of the displaced people. Most displaced Palestinians were either forced out by the invading Arab armies or chose to flee (in many cases encouraged by the invading Arab armies advanced propaganda). Let’s not forget that Israel has had both Arab citizens but also Arab members of the Knesset since the First Knesset in ’49.

    Third, the “lines” weren’t chosen by the Jews. They were literal battle lines. It may be tough to remember now but infant Israel was a substantial underdog militarily at the time. It was widely presumed, particularly by the Arabs, that they were going to drive the Jews into the sea and massacre them all – and they wanted their friendly local populace out of the way of their armies. Regardless, Israel ended up larger than the UN partition plan solely because the Arabs attacked Israel and lost territory.
    On the broader points, the law is ridiculous and was appropriately struck down.

    And Michael’s facts and conclusion is also right.

    Look, I despise Bibi Netanyahu and much of his governing coalition. He is, at best, amoral and I lean towards immoral. I hope he gets run out of office soon. It would be nice if he ends up in prison. And it is totally understandable to oppose his administration and their actions. Boycotting everything made in the country though…

    And Bibi’s actions don’t explain BDS. BDS predates him.

    Nor are they solely responsible for the lack of progress on a peace deal. The reality is that Israel has had leaders willing to make peace and the Palestinians have never had one willing to commit.

    Nor do they explain why it is only Israel that gets this treatment. And while Doug is correct that for any specific person or entity, demanding that they be consistent or shut up isn’t a compelling argument, on a macro level, there is no non-bigoted explanation for the reality that there are *no* other similar movements aimed at countries who are demonstrably far, far worse in every measure. At least none that I’ve heard. Anyone actually have one?

    So… we shouldn’t criminalize political thought – even political thought tainted by bigotry.

  16. SKI says:

    @Gustopher: Pressure is one thing. We can and should be frank with our allies. Imposing a boycott of all goods is a very different kettle of fish.

    Reality check:
    Israel gives full citizenship and voting rights to Arab Israelis. It has always done so. It has offered such citizenship to the Arabs of East Jerusalem – the portion of the land captured in ’67 it has formally annexed.

    So the Israeli actions towards the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank can’t be easily explained by racism or religious bigotry. Maybe they have something to do with a hundred+ years of violence and fighting….

    And BDS is blaming only one side in that conflict – the side that historically has been more defensive and initiated less aggression. Why is that?

  17. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Israel faces two choices in its immediate future. Either it pursues a two-state solution with the Palestinians, or it follows the call of some of the hardliners around Netanyahu and decides that the only solution is one state consisting of both populations. The first option, of course, requires willing partners on the Palestinian side and that seems as lacking as it presently is on the Israeli side. The second option would likely have to be enforced at the point of a gun, could lead to another Middle East war, and would require Israel to eventually make the choice between being a democratic state and being a Jewish state.

    And there is the rub…

    Even when Israel has had leaders willing to do so (and it clearly doesn’t right now), there has never been a partner on the other side…

  18. Tyrell says:

    That is understandable and reasonable. Once the state government starts picking and choosing like that no telling where it would go.
    But I wonder if it was the other way around, what the state would do?
    Probably approve of it.
    What will be next? Prohibiting individuals from boycotting businesses that do not do business with Israel? Closing down churches that support Israel? Requiring people to take a number in order to buy or sell? (do not take a number from the government).

  19. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    “… one state consisting of both populations.”

    I don’t follow this issue particularly closely, but my understanding of the Israeli “one state” approach is that it would be a state of Israeli citizens, and other people (squatters if you will) living wherever they can find some space and at the forbearance of the state and subject to removal without notice. This doesn’t sound like much of a solution, for what it’s worth.

    As I don’t follow the issue closely, I will admit that the above statement may be somewhat reductionist and if anyone wants to correct or amend it, please feel free.

  20. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Nor do they explain why it is only Israel that gets this treatment.

    For the same reason that South Africa got hammered to the floorboards over apartheid while everybody else on the stinky player list at the time got a pass – the issue got the public’s attention, and that attention gave it momentum.

    Like it or not, accurate or not, the West Bank has become to be portrayed as being the modern day Grassy Bank.

    Do I think that there is a component of this predicated on anti-Semitism? Sure, but to say that it’s the primary rationale is off-base IMO.

    The messaging on this one has been carried out very effectively, aided in no small part by Likud and ultra-Orthodox settlers who both have a talent for making a bad situation worse.

    Israel has been portrayed in this campaign as being a bully, ultra right-wing, and an apartheid state in everything but name, and that message has taken on deep roots. Ask a random Parisian (I have, btw) what their opinion is of Israel, and you’ll invariably hear variations on the theme “bully”. You won’t hear much different anywhere else in Europe, and, increasingly, in the US.

    In the battle of public perception, which is all that this really is, there is no right & wrong. There are only winners and losers. Israel is losing this one. It won’t reverse it by staying on its current path.

  21. MarkedMan says:

    There is a fundamental difference between Israel and, say, Saudi Arabia vis a vis the USA: we don’t send billions upon billions of dollars to SA. We don’t spend billions to pay off their neighbors to leave them alone. And we don’t spend huge amounts of international good will and political
    capital on them.

  22. MarkedMan says:

    I should be clear: I wouldn’t boycott products made in Israel proper. I don’t think Israel is the worst place on earth, not by a long, long shot. But I don’t care about the history. What matters is the reality that Israel exists and that it has millions upon millions of second class residents. Maybe Israel can one day eject them all from those areas and repopulate with ultra Orthodox settlers and the ejected will just wander off and forget about revenge. Or maybe those second class residents can organize an army and take over Israel and rebrand it Palestine and eject all the non-Arabs, who will wander off and forget about revenge.

    Whatever the outcome, there is no longer any serious effort by either side to reach a solution. I just don’t think the US should be choosing sides in this fight any longer.

  23. @SKI:

    Example: in late 1800s, there were roughly an equal amount of Jews and Arabs west of the Jordan.

    I am 99% sure that this is nonsense – in 1948, after a massive Jewish migration for the Mandate of Palestine, fleeing from holocaust and war, jews were around 35% of the population. I think very dubius that they are around 50% before that migration.

  24. TM 01 says:


    BDS had to lie to get the NO council to pass this crap.

    They repealed it not long after

  25. Lounsbury says:

    @michael reynolds: That is nonsense.

    The only country that Americans of various stripes care about that is subject to boycot is indeed Israel.

    It rather comes with the territory of being an occupying power that refuses to give citizenship to the Occupied population (but also dares not engage in new large scale explusion) and thus is engaged treating what is a running sore that is unresolved in any direction.

    In the same region, Morocco, which occupies the Western Sahara territory is certainly subject to attempts at economic sanctions, particularly by the Nordics. Of course Morocco gave citizenship to the territory residents…

    There is nothing actually particularly unique about the position Israel finds itself in, other than it is particularly high profile.

    Claiming “uniqueness” and “only” country is simply special pleading.

    You can argue that Israel is justified by whatever set of circumstances in its policies, etc. – that is colourable position to take, but pretending it is ‘unique’ in being subject to approbium due to actions is silly and unfactual.

  26. drj says:

    @michael reynolds:

    What is it that sets Israel apart? Oh. . . right. Jews.

    Well yes, but isn’t Israel also supposed to be “the only democracy in the Middle East?”

    Aren’t we constantly invited to sympathize with Israel; and, by extension, to feel antipathy toward Palestinians, as well as Muslims in general?

    Aren’t we constantly reminded about “Judeo-Christian” culture, in order to create an us vs. them mentality?

    Didn’t the leader of Israel’s government give a speech before US Congress in order to provide political ammunition to the domestic opponents of a sitting US president?

    Isn’t our “good friend” Israel the main reason there are prominent voices calling for an attack on Iran?

    Isn’t Israel’s military being subsidized to the tune of billion dollars a year by the US government?

    In short, as long as Israel is supposed to be “us” and not “them” – and especially if this has significant domestic repercussions – it should hardly come as a surprise that the country is being held to different and higher standard than, say, Ghana.

    What also doesn’t help, of course, is that Israel isn’t just a part of the culture wars, but that it deliberately injected itself in them. They made their bed, now they must lie in it.

    You really need more to level an accusation of anti-Semitism.

  27. Tyrell says:

    No doubt that Israel is God’s favored and chosen people. But God chastens and harshly corrects the Hebrews time and again.
    People forget that Israel is a people, including Christians.
    Psalm 83: 5 “they form an alliance against you”. Russia, Iran?
    Romans 9:27 “their number like the sand of the sea”
    Who will stand with Israel?

  28. TM 01 says:

    Do not buy from Jews:

    Frankfurt: BDS is deeply anti-Semitic.

    Clear anti JEWISH, not just Israel, behavior:

    Bill de Blasio Challenges Progressives to Oppose BDS:

    You can certainly be opposed to Israeli policies, etc., but please, saying the BDS movement is anything BUT anti-Semitic is just wilful ignorance.

  29. TM 01 says:

    I love all the down votes for a post detailing the anti-Semitic nature of BDS.
    You guys must really hate Jews, eh?

  30. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @TM 01:

    Considering how many of the folks who are likely downvoting you here are Jewish, speaking as a Jew, I’d say … no.