This morning the House Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee passed HF400, a bill which specifically targets vendors, including state colleges and universities, who engage in a boycott of Israel (PDF). In recent weeks, we have seen the MN state legislature, in a gross overreach of their power, push forward bills to intimidate protesters and curb the 15Now movement’s gains in the Twin Cities. Make no mistake: these bills are a response to the power of the people.
HF400 comes after Jewish Voices for Peace and MN Break the Bonds have for years worked to promote the BDS movement in Minnesota. It comes after our own UMN Divest campaign last year. This is not new. Last year, 80 Legislators wrote to Kaler demanding he shut down our divestment campaign, resulting in our resolution being struck off the MSA agenda.
These Trump-like policies the MN Legislature is enacting must be stopped. This bill is a violation of free speech and the civil right to boycott. Purporting to protect Israel, it actually aims to punish individuals, academic institutions, and companies who are engaged in a “boycott of Israel.” This is a vague, overhanded way to politically and economically steamroll those small business owners or academic institutions who choose to exercise their free speech through a boycott of regime policies that violate international law. It is a direct response to the growing strength and success of the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and to the astounding show of student support for UMN Divest.
We can not and will not allow our State Representatives to enact these blatant violations of our constitutional rights. Resistance to Trump, to this system, must exist on all levels.