Last week over 20 Ohioans, including members of Project Peace and Northwest Ohio Free Speech Alliance, traveled to the Ohio Statehouse to give testimony opposing House Bill 476, the bill to prohibit a state agency from contracting with for-profit entities that divest from or boycott Israel. In spite of our best efforts, the bill was rushed through the lame duck session of the Ohio General Assembly and is now sitting on Governor Kasich’s desk. Will you call him this week to ask him to veto the bill?
House Bill 476 is a response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It runs counter to the core values of the U.S. and Ohio constitutions. The bill punishes economic boycotts, which are entirely lawful acts of free speech. It interferes with US foreign policy and rampantly violates Ohioans’ free speech rights.
If passed, any company, including all for-profit sole proprietorships and partnerships as well as corporations, desirous of receiving payments or benefits from the state of Ohio will be required to sign away its right to oppose Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. Participation in much of Ohio’s economic activity will require a coerced foreign policy position.
The bipartisan co-sponsors of H.B. 476 aim to shut down supporters of the international BDS movement, which is based on the anti-apartheid campaign against South Africa of a quarter century ago. BDS is a nonviolent global grassroots effort to restore the fundamental human rights of Palestinians. The campaign is aimed at building pressure on the state of Israel to end its illegal occupation and to follow international humanitarian law in its policies toward, and treatment of, Palestinians.
Will you please call Governor Kasich’s office to ask him to veto the bill? Ask him to protect Ohioans’ free speech rights. Let him know that economic boycott is a right protected by the Constitution and is a time-honored method to protest oppression and human rights violations. The Governor’s office phone is: (614) 466-3555. You will probably reach his voice mail and will be asked to leave a brief message. You may also use the contact form at the Governor’s web page.
Many thanks for your advocacy!