Update: VICTORY! On February 8, 2017, HB 2261 died in committee in the Virginia House of Delegates.
On Friday, Jan. 27, Palestine Legal, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation sent a memo to Virginia state lawmakers demanding that they oppose HB 2261, an unconstitutional bill aimed at suppressing Palestinian human rights advocacy.
Like the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, a federal bill that passed the U.S. Senate unanimously and without debate but died in the U.S. House of Representatives in December, HB 2261 endorses a widely discredited, overly broad definition of antisemitism that includes virtually all criticism of Israeli government policies.
If enacted, HB 2261 would amend Virginia’s Human Rights Act, which already prohibits religious discrimination, to classify political speech supportive of Palestinian human rights as unlawful discrimination in the workplace, in public accommodations, and in educational institutions in Virginia.
The memo states:
HB 2261 is a blatantly unconstitutional attack on individual liberties, academic freedom, and human rights. While ostensibly introduced to expand the Human Rights Act’s reach, this bill provides no new legal protection for Jewish or other residents of Virginia who are subjected to discrimination on the basis of their religion…. It makes a mockery of the state’s Human Rights Act by punishing, rather than uplifting, human rights advocacy.
HB 2261 is one of dozens of bills aimed at censoring Palestine advocacy in the U.S.
In the past thirty days, anti-BDS measures have been introduced in Congress and ten states. In 2016, at least seventeen anti-boycott measures became law, enjoying broad support from Democrats and Republicans alike.
Click here to read the memo.