Arlene Bridges Samuels
The Eclectic Evangelical @InEssentialsUnity

Put the brakes on BDS: US Congress must shift into high gear!

Israel's Alon Day Celebrates a NASCAR Win. Congress must Shift into High Gear to Put Brakes on BDS! Picture: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard
Israel's Alon Day Celebrates a NASCAR Win. Congress must Shift into High Gear to Put Brakes on BDS! Picture: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

The Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is making headway to its finish line to wage economic warfare against Israel. BDS is gate-crashing businesses, concerts, campuses, congress, media, and yes, churches. We cannot remain in the grandstands simply watching and bemoaning its race to vilify Israel. American citizens can help shift the gear into reverse against the BDS movement by contacting members of US Congress. Congress recesses on December 13/14 so there’s a need for speed! The BDS economic warfare against Israel also holds the potential to adversely affect the US economy which is tremendously profitable due to our free trade agreement with Israel. US imports from Israel total more than $761 billion. US exports to Israel, more than $1 trillion! It’s a Grand Prix of benefits.

When it comes to the importance of contacting the US Congress, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (1916-1939) bequeathed an influential task to Americans:“The most important political office is that of the private citizen.” And let’s not forget that Moses, Esther and Nehemiah set a political precedent when they appealed to their leaders on behalf of the Jewish people in ancient times. As a private US citizen, you can follow their lead and fight the modern boycott of Israel in less than 5 minutes! Ignore pessimists and partisanship. American citizens still have a voice with congress. One email, and especially one call, is said to represent a thousand.

For several years, Congress has worked on legislation to bring BDS to a screeching halt. Both Democrats and Republicans have cooperated to craft legislation. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)-which is dedicated to strengthening the US-Israel relationship on a bipartisan basis-has engaged its Jewish, Christian, African American and Hispanic communities to contact members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican. They also urge all Americans to contact their lawmakers to pass The Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720 and H.R.1697) and The Combating BDS Act of 2017 (S.170 and H.R. 2856). Christians United for Israel is also mobilizing its members.

US Capitol in Autumn
Photo: Patch Contributor Laura Stivers

Here are two links via AIPAC designed to make it easy to reach your member of congress. Scroll to the end of each link and click for the direct way to email.
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act https://takeaction.aipac.org/QCCT3gO?_ga=2.72688539.942972470.1543259859-147889277.1542039967
The Combatting BDS Act https://takeaction.aipac.org/mQPC1OX?_ga=2.119238145.942972470.1543259859-147889277.1542039967

Emailing is good yet calling is best. To call, simply dial 202-224-3121 where you will be directed to an operator at the Capitol switchboard. This switchboard directs you to both Senate and House offices. As we say in the southern United States, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” While I’m not describing members of Congress as flies, make sure you speak respectfully and briefly to whomever answers the phone. You might not speak directly to your lawmakers, but staff are the essential doorkeepers in conveying your message.

You may be asking, “What should I say if I email or call?” Here’s my suggestion; keep it short and make it sweet like honey. “Hello, my name is Arlene Bridges Samuels. I hope you are enjoying a good day. I’m a constituent in the state of Georgia. I’m calling my Senator to ask for a favorable vote on The Combatting BDS Act of 2017 and the The Israel Anti-Boycott Act. It’s important to me because the legislation is a great benefit to the US and to Israel. Thank you so much.” For your House member, the same. If you’re not a US citizen, please let your American friends know that they can help change the course of modern anti-semitism by contacting congress.

Time is of the essence for US Congress.
Their action by the end of this legislative calendar will bolster the efforts already in 26 states that have enacted their versions of legislation to slow down the BDS movement. One of the most effective is California’s version which has utilized strong constitutional guardrails to keep BDS in check. Dillon Hosier is Chief Advocacy Officer of the Israeli-American Civic Action Network. I recently spoke with him about the California anti-BDS law.

The California bill is different from other states for a very good reason. We wanted to pass a bill that would stand up to Constitutional scrutiny. The bills passed in other states, like Arizona, may appear to ‘have teeth’ but are brittle in their strength. This is evidenced by a Federal court striking down the Arizona law just weeks ago. Our strong anti-BDS efforts must contain Constitutional safeguards and the rule of law while opposing the BDS discriminatory goals.

Hosier elaborated, “In essence, the California anti-BDS law protects Californians from discrimination in the conduct of business stemming from BDS. For example, if a hotel owner in Los Angeles is pro-BDS and refuses to allow Israeli-Americans to host an event at the hotel-because the hotel owner is boycotting Israel-then that hotel owner is in violation of the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. The hotel would also violate the provisions of AB 2844 which prohibits California from contracting with entities that engage in discriminatory activity. This includes but is not limited to discrimination targeting Jews and those of Israeli origin. The result is that hotel cannot get a contract with the state.”

Today, make your calls. Send your emails. Use your voice. Follow the bible’s courageous leaders and make Moses, Esther, and Nehemiah’s political advocacy live again!

About the Author
Arlene Bridges Samuels has held pioneering positions with Israel Always, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, (AIPAC) and International Christian Embassy Jerusalem's project (ICEJUSA), American Christian Leaders for Israel. Traveling to Israel since 1990, she is now an author at the Times of Israel, The Christian Post, Contributor to The Christian Broadcast Network and a networker, consultant, and speaker. Her articles have also appeared in Philos Project, Providence Magazine (The Institute on Religion and Democracy), ICEJ's Word from Jerusalem, Mercy Ships, and Concerned Women for America. She shares her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on Facebook and is an active member of a small Anglican church. After attending Winthrop University in her home state of South Carolina, Arlene earned her Masters degree at the University of Alabama. Every season, she looks forward to the Alabama Crimson Tide winning SEC and national football championships!
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