ACLU Attacks Progressive Senator Maggie Hassan for Supporting Anti-BDS Legislation

Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., right, accompanied by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., left, speaks during a news conference on the effects of the proposed Republican healthcare legislation on families on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017. Senate Republicans would cut Medicaid, end penalties for people not buying insurance and …
AP/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) is under fire from fellow progressives for supporting bipartisan legislation that would amend the Export Administration Act of 1979 to prohibit the crippling boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

“Senator Hassan strongly opposes the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel and believes that it harms efforts to secure enduring peace through bilateral negotiations toward a two-state solution,” Ricki Eshman, Hassan’s press secretary, said in a statement, according to the Algemeiner.

Hassan is being accused by members of the progressive movement — and specifically the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — of stifling free speech.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) in March and supported by 45 additional senators from the Republican and Democratic parties, “opposes the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution of March 24, 2016, which urges countries to pressure companies to divest from, or break contracts with, Israel”, and “encourages full implementation of the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 through enhanced, government-wide, coordinated U.S.-Israel scientific and technological cooperation in civilian areas.”

The bill also seeks to amend the 1979 Export Administration Act “to include in the prohibitions on boycotts against allies of the United States boycotts fostered by international governmental organizations against Israel and to direct the Export-Import Bank of the United States to oppose boycotts against Israel, and for other purposes.”

However, progressive groups like the ACLU have spent the last seven months vocally opposing the proposed legislation. In an op-ed that came out Wednesday, the group wrote, “Last week, the ACLU came out against a bill that would criminalize constitutionally protected boycotts and certain speech targeting Israel. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which was introduced in both the House and Senate earlier this year, would expand a 1970s-era export law and expose a range of activity to sweeping penalties, including criminal prosecution.”

Algemeiner reported the ACLU wrote to Hassan in a July 17 letter: “We urge you to refrain from co-sponsoring the legislation because it would punish individuals for no reason other than their political beliefs.”

Jacob Milner, senior policy analyst for The Israel Project (TIP), told Breitbart News: “The ACLU is wrong. They are not interpreting the bill correctly. The bill is not dealing with personal speech, it’s dealing with commercial activity.”

“The ACLU is conveniently leaving out the fact that the 1979 Anti-Boycott bill has been upheld as constitutional. These bills have now passed in 22 states and it’s important that we call out BDS for what it is; a hate campaign against Israel,” he said. “It’s economic warfare. It’s not a human rights campaign. It’s an effort to delegitimize the Jewish state.”

Although the Republican Party has been the leader in overall support for Israel over the past few years, several members of the Democratic Party have remained unwavering in the face of anti-Israel attitudes from members of their party.

In a speech on the Senate floor on July 17, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said, “The global BDS movement is a deeply biased campaign that I would say, in similar words to Mr. Macron, is a ‘reinvented form of anti-Semitism’ because it seeks to impose boycotts on Israel and not on any other nation.”

Schumer was commended by French President Emmanuel Macron who on the 75th-anniversary of the Vel d’Hiv roundup, declared that anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism.

Schumer also said:

Anti-Semitism is a word that has been used throughout history when Jewish people are judged and measured by one standard and the rest by another. When everyone else was allowed to farm and Jews could not; when anyone else could live in Moscow and Jews could not; when others could become academics or tradesmen and Jews could not. The word to describe all of these acts is anti-Semitism. So it is with anti-Zionism; the idea that all other peoples can seek and defend their right to self-determination but Jews cannot; that other nations have a right to exist, but the Jewish state of Israel does not.

In an op-ed he penned in The Hill, TIP CEO and President Joshua S. Block wrote, “The Israel Anti-Boycott Act is not an effort to suppress free speech, but an important weapon in the fight against hate and intolerance. Passing federal legislation now would send a powerful message: anti-Semitism is not welcome in America and Israel is our great friend and ally.”

Adelle Nazarian is a politics and national security reporter for Breitbart News. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.