Help Us Defeat Kaplowitz and Maisano Anti-BDS Resolution

Help Us Defeat Kaplowitz and Maisano Anti-BDS Resolution

On Monday, June 12 at 10 a.m. the Legislation Committee of the Westchester County Board of Legislators is scheduled to discuss an anti-BDS resolution referred to on their website as ID # 10140  Resolution – LEGISLATORS KAPLOWITZ AND MAISANO: Proposed Reso – Anti BDS Movement.  We are asking for people to attend this public hearing and contact your legislator (contact information can be found here  http://westchesterlegislators.com/contact-us.html ) with the following points:

1.Boycott, divestment, and sanctions are nonviolent approaches to ending injustice. These tactics are protected under the U.S. Constitution and have a long and honorable history protesting segregation (the Montgomery bus boycott), unfair working conditions (the farmworkers’ grape boycott), an apartheid regime (the boycott of South Africa), and LGBT discrimination (boycotts of Arizona and North Carolina). 

 2. Legislative measures that demonize BDS and level false accusations against it and its supporters, even resolutions without the binding force of law, have a chilling effect on dissent. Their indirect effect is to exercise government censorship, undermining First Amendment protections. Further, they stifle the open exchange of ideas that could help resolve the tragic conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

3. The BDS movement on behalf of Palestinian rights, which is supported by many in the Jewish community, is directed against the discriminatory policies the government of Israel employs against Palestinians. It is not anti-Semitic. It does not promote hatred or discriminate against Jews as a people but rather protests the policies of a state.

4. Under international law recognized by the vast majority of nations of the globe, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is considered illegal and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians an abuse of human rights.  Supporters of BDS are thus acting in concert with international law and standards of justice.

5. For decades the stated policy of the United States Government has been that settlements in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel are illegal under International law and an obstacle to peace. Americans who support BDS are giving substance to the principles to which their government pays lip service.

WESPAC is fully in support of the Jewish Voice for Peace – Westchester Chapter Statement below in strongly opposing this proposed resolution and we urge supporters of the United States Constitution and supporters of justice to stand up to the Westchester County Board of Legislators and urge them not to support this proposed resolution:

I write on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace-Westchester, the local chapter of an influential national organization that seeks to promote a peace in Palestine/ Israel based on international law, human rights, equality, justice, and security for all the peoples of the region. As an organization and as individuals, we support Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).   

Like many JVP members, I have been to the West Bank and East Jersualem. In November 2012 I saw up close what the occupation looks like. It is unspeakably ugly – physically brutal and psychologically Kafka-esque. It operates through an arbitrary and cruel imposition of unpredictable rules and regulations enforced through overwhelming force against a subject people that make their daily life an unrelenting grind. Some 40% of Palestinian men have been held in Israeli prisons, many of them without charge or trial.  

Children as young as five and six have been detained not only without lawyers but also without the comfort of their parents. Youths throwing stones confront soldiers carrying heavy arms and driving tanks, radically upending the David-Goliath motif. Houses are demolished, orchards uprooted, access to property and livelihood made difficult if not impossible. Military checkpoints at shifting points and schedules make movement from one village or town to another endlessly time-consuming.

The Occupation amounts to ethnic-cleansing: it makes life so intolerable that people who can leave are tempted to do so, and some others drift into hopelessness and despair.  That the vast majority of Palestinians resist this abusive regime nonviolently day in and day out is testimony to their courage, their humanity, and their steadfastness in the face of injustice. I was deeply ashamed to see the Israeli policies abetted by U.S. connivance. Much of the equipment and weaponry used to enforce the occupation is stamped “Made in America.”  This poisonous fact does not escape the notice of the peoples of surrounding lands for whom American involvement is synonymous with repression and violence.

We oppose the Kaplowitz-Maisano resolution for many reasons. Among them are the following.

Legislative measures that demonize BDS and level false accusations against it and its supporters, even resolutions without the binding force of law, have a chilling effect on dissent. They are a form of indirect government censorship that undermines First Amendment protections. Further, they stifle the open exchange of ideas that could help resolve the tragic conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Boycott, divestment, and sanctions are nonviolent approaches to ending injustice. These tactics are protected under the Constitution and have a long and honorable history protesting segregation (the Montgomery bus boycott), unfair working conditions (the farmworkers’ grape boycott), an apartheid regime (the boycott of South Africa), and LGBT discrimination (boycotts of Arizona and North Carolina). 

 The BDS movement on behalf of Palestinian rights, which is supported by many in the Jewish community, is directed against the discriminatory policies that the government of Israel employs against Palestinians. Contrary to misinformation and the assertion in the Kaplowitz-Maisano resolution that  BDS as “a movement that seeks to undermine Israel and malign the Jewish people,” BDS is not anti-Semitic. It does not promote hatred or discriminate against Jews as a people but rather protests the policies of a state. Many Westcheter Jews have written you protesting this misrepresentation. To misuse the term Anti-Semitism in this way is to trivialize an odious phenomenon.

Under international law recognized by the vast majority of nations of the globe, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is considered illegal and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians an abuse of human rights.  Supporters of BDS are thus acting in concert with international law and standards of justice.

For decades the stated policy of the United States Government has been that settlements in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel are illegal under International law and an obstacle to peace. Americans who support BDS are giving substance to the principles to which their government pays lip service.

The anti-BDS initiative before you is wrong-headed. It discriminates against thinking and action that are humanitarian in outlook. It distracts attention from pressing local issues, serves no discernible local interest, and alienates politically active sectors of Westchester’s residents who believe that the freedom to hold dissenting views without government pressure is a foundation of American democracy. It encourages Israel to persist in policies toward the Palestinians that undermine its claim to democracy and its standing in international public opinion and contravene international law and human rights.

Below please find the text of a thoughtful resolution adopted recently by the California Democratic Party. It addresses many of the issues relevant to discussions of Palestine/Israel and BDS. You can consult it on the CA Democratic Party website at

http://cadem.org/sidebar/Convention-2017-Floor-Report-FINAL.pdf . See page 4.

On behalf of JVP-Westchester, I urge you to vote against the anti-BDS resolution.

Yours sincerely,

Priscilla Read

Tarrytown, New York 

RESOLUTION 17-05.05

Opposing Trump’s Dangerous Provocations; Supporting Peace, Justice and Equality for Israelis and Palestinians — And Robust Discourse in California

WHEREAS for decades some members of both parties and Congress have expressed criticism of Israel’s now nearly 50-year occupation of Palestinian lands, while failing to back up that criticism with actual steps to change the status quo and bring about a real peace process; and

WHEREAS the new administration has indicated that it is likely to adopt an even more one-sided policy, threatening to provoke havoc and further instability by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and appointing an ambassador (opposed for confirmation by all but two Democratic senators) who is an avid supporter of illegal settlements and opponent of Palestinian statehood; and

WHEREAS empowered by the new administration’s policy, the government of Israel has accelerated its construction of illegal settlements in the occupied territories and has adopted new anti-Democratic measures internally, denied entry into the country of representatives of mainstream human rights organizations and passed a law that would bar many visitors with critical views;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the California Democratic Party favors a U.S. policy that would work through the United Nations and other international bodies as well as with Israel and the representatives of the Palestinian people for a just peace based on full equality and security for Israeli Jews and Palestinians alike, human rights and international law, in line with the words of Sen. Bernie Sanders in his 2016 message to AIPAC: “Peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights and economic well-being for the Palestinian people”;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the CDP rejects any effort to restrict or discourage open public discourse on issues surrounding Israel and Palestine; disavows conflation of criticism of a country’s policies with hatred of its people; but also opposes anti-Semitic or Islamophobic language brought into the debate and also opposes any attempt to restrict or penalize those who exercise their right to express their views through nonviolent action to effect change.

Authors: David L. Mandel, AD 7; Murad Surama, AD 7; Karen Bernal AD 7

Sponsors: CDP Region 3; Norma Alcala, AD 7; Gina Barkalow, AD 9; Peter Brogan, AD 9; Alice Chan, AD 10; et al.

Posted in Blogs, Communities & Focus Areas, Director's Blog, Militarism and Foreign Policy, Movement Building, Racial Justice