Virginia has become ground zero in the state by state effort to penalize those who wish to exercise their
constitutionally-protected freedom of speech by boycotting, or even just maintaining their right to boycott, the
state of Israel. Any day now, the State House is expected to consider two more dangerous bills that would infringe
on the right to free speech and academic freedom: HB1606 and HB1898.
HB1606 – “IHRA Anti-Semitism; definition when term used in reference to discrimination”, is the latest in a series of cynical attempts across the country to co-opt the fight against antisemitism and use it instead as a weapon against free speech and to quash legitimate criticism of policies and actions of the Israeli government. Adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism is a prime example of how well-meaning attempts to fight antisemitism can be misappropriated. IHRA and its examples, while on the surface seemingly benign, have been used time and again to codify language that would allow for such weaponization.
HB1898 effectively prohibits contractors doing business with the Commonwealth from participating in boycotts of Israel. At APN we oppose the global BDS movement, but do support the boycott of settlement goods and the Occupied Territories and we definitely support the right of people to boycott. Even those who disagree with boycotting Israel should still support our First Amendment rights. And this legislation, if enacted, will be used as a cudgel to punish Virginians in violation of those very rights. This bill is unnecessary, unhelpful, and undemocratic.
Click here to ask your Delegate to VOTE NO on HB1606 and HB1898.