Updated Feb 8, 2017
Victory! On February 8, 2017, after intense pressure form Palestine solidarity and free speech advocates, HB 2261 died in committee. It will not be considered during the 2017 legislative session.
In 2017, Virginia lawmakers introduced HB 2261, an unconstitutional bill that would amend the state's anti-discrimination law to incorporate a widely discredited, overly broad definition of antisemitism that includes virtually all criticism of Israel and Israeli government policies. HB 2261 would essentially classify political speech supportive of Palestinian human rights as unlawful discrimination in the workplace, in public accommodations, and in educational institutions in Virginia.
Share with your lawmaker:
- Legal Memo by Palestine Legal, Center for Constitutional Rights, and Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation
Read the bill: HB 2261
In 2016, an anti-BDS bill, HB 1282, and an anti-BDS non-binding resolution, HJR 177, were introduced in the Virginia Legislature.
VICTORY! The bill, HB 1282, has been tabled. As originally drafted, the bill would have prohibited the state from doing business with companies that boycott Israel. It was later watered-down after pressure from local activists, and eventually tabled altogether.
- Learn more about Freedom2Boycott - VA
- Listen: How Palestinian rights activists halted Virginia's anti-boycott bill, via Electronic Intifada
- Morrison, Ruebner and Wein: Preserve freedom to boycott, via Richmond Times Dispatch
Find out more about the non-binding resolution:
These bills are the result of a campaign to suppress Palestine human rights activism in the U.S. Israel's interest in restricting this activism should not override our constitutional right to advocate for change.
The good news is that your right to engage in boycotts related to Israeli human rights abuses and to advocate for BDS is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. None of the bills and resolutions described here prohibit you from engaging in BDS activities.
Whatever your views on Israel and Palestine, these bills should be of concern because they threaten the rights of everyone in the U.S. to take collective action to address injustice. Moreover, we should all be alarmed that a foreign government, Israel, is lobbying U.S. politicians to restrict our rights.