The Southern California News Group (SCNG) is a chain of newspapers in the Greater Los Angeles area, notably the Los Angeles Daily News, The Orange County Register, The Daily Breeze and the Riverside Press Enterprise.
The chain published a letter to the editor on Jan. 27, 2019, from a reader who wrote about CAIR’s lawsuits to block anti-BDS legislation, accusing CAIR – and Muslims – of wanting to legalize anti-Semitism. This could not be further from the truth.
While I had many thoughts and much to say regarding the topic, when I submitted the following letter to the editor on Feb. 1, I was limited to 150 words. My letter was not published, but I wanted to share it with you:
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement is a non-violent form of protest of Israel’s policies of occupation, apartheid and oppression of Palestinians. It is inspired by the 1980s sanctions against South Africa in protest of its apartheid policies. It is a form of boycott, which is constitutionally protected speech.
The lawsuits filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in relation to BDS defend the First Amendment right to free speech, which is trampled by anti-BDS legislation.
U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Dianne Feinstein recently wrote: “While we do not support the … (BDS) Movement, we remain resolved to our constitutional oath to defend the right of every American to express their views peacefully without fear of actual punishment by the government.”
Regardless of one’s stance on BDS, we must strongly combat laws that criminalize free speech, especially when the purpose is to shield governments engaged in human rights abuses.
(NOTE: The U.S. Senate passed Senate Bill 1 on Feb. 5. The anti-BDS bill gives federal protection to states that pass laws penalizing Americans who participate in political boycotts aimed at Israel and its illegal settlements in occupied territories. CAIR-LA stands in solidarity with our National chapter in condemning legislation that goes against the principles of free speech.)
Hussam Ayloush has been the Executive Director of CAIR-LA since 1998. He frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs pertaining to American Muslims. He has consistently appeared in local, national and international media advocating and articulating the mainstream Muslim position on various issues.
CAIR-LA is Southern California’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice and empower American Muslims.