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Federal Judge Blocks Anti-BDS Law in Arizona 

posted on: Oct 3, 2018

By: Michael Springmann/Arab America Contributing Writer

America’s Basic Law: Amendment I of the U.S. Constitution (Adopted December 1791)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, [emphasis added] or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Oh, Yeah?  Arizona didn’t think so. Israel doesn’t think so.

Last Thursday, a federal judge barred Arizona from enforcing a law denying state and local government contracts to firms unless they agree not to boycott Israel or companies that operate there.

Judge Diane Humetewa ruled that the law interferes with First Amendment rights. She rejected arguments by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich that lawmakers have a legal, moral, right to prevent public dollars from going to individuals and companies who boycott Israel economically.

In 2016, the State of Arizona passed a law “that denies State and local government contracts to firms unless they agree not to boycott Israel or companies that operate there.”  Diane Humetawa, a member of the Hopi Indian Nation and a judge of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, enjoined enforcement of that law.  In her Opinion, she wrote that “the State cannot use its economic power to deny people their right to speak out and act on their personal beliefs.”

However, Judge Humetawa left the door open for additional litigation.  She gave Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich “the opportunity to persuade her that the 2016 law has a legitimate and legal purpose.” Still, the judge asserted that all she had seen to date indicated that the law is unconstitutional and will eventually be struck down by the federal judiciary.  “The loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury,” the judge wrote.

The Attorney General’s office responded, “the state has a legitimate interest in prohibiting anti-Semitism in state contracting. We plan to appeal the decision, not just because we think we’re legally right, but it’s morally the right thing to do as well.”

David Gowan, Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives at the time the law was passed, stated that he wanted to use the State’s power to undermine the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement (BDS).  The former Speaker asserted that the Movement was “anti-Semitic” [without defining anti-Semitism], adding “his legislation shows Arizona is supportive of Israel, ‘its strongest ally in the Middle East.’”

The Judge Elucidates… 

“The First Amendment protects political association as well as political expression,” Humetewa wrote.

“At the heart of the First Amendment lies the principle that each person should decide for himself or herself the ideas and beliefs deserving of expression, consideration, and adherence,” ‘the judge wrote, quoting prior U.S. Supreme Court rulings.’ “Indeed, if there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matter of opinion or force citizens to confess by work or act their faith therein.”

“All that, she said, applies to boycotts.”

Here’s the Needed Perspective: 

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.” 

Why is BDS necessary?  The organization states “Israel is occupying and colonizing [sic] Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call [sic] urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law.”

Why are Israel and its supporters so infuriated at the interest group?  “BDS is now a vibrant global movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world. Eleven years since its launch, BDS is having a major impact and is effectively challenging international support for Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism.”

But Why is This an American Issue?


Liberty-hating  Zionists are on the march in “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”. According to Palestine Legal as of June 2018:

Anti-BDS laws have been enacted in the following States: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana*, Maryland*, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York*, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin*.

*The Governors of Louisiana, Maryland, New York, and Wisconsin signed anti-BDS executive orders.

Count ’em. That’s 25 States out of 50 in the Union. The Bill of Rights was predicated on saying what government could not do, rather than what it could.

How Do They Steal Your Freedom? 

1. Creating “blacklists” of people, organizations, and companies that boycott Israel.  

2. Prohibiting State or local governments from entering into contracts with people. organizations, and companies that support BDS.  

3. Divesting from pension funds of organizations and companies that boycott Israel.

As noted above, this is blatantly unconstitutional. “The government may not condition the receipt of government benefits on the requirement that a person forgoes core political speech activity. Nor can the government enact measures that chill our speech rights.”  

So What Can We Do?


Palestine Legal advises the following:

  • Look for action alerts to oppose legislation in your State, or contact your legislators and let them know what you think about these bills.
  • Stand up for your right to boycott by writing to local and national media.
  • Join or start a local coalition to oppose anti-BDS legislation or to start your own boycott campaign and show that such legislation will not scare you away from exercising your right to boycott!


Michael Springmann is an attorney, author, political commentator, and former diplomat. He has written Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked The World and a second book Goodbye, Europe? Hello, Chaos? Merkel’s Migrant Bomb. Both are available on Amazon. The books’ website is: