I was afraid to publish this article with my name on it, but here I am. I was compelled to write this after seeing mainstream media (aka the New York Times) report on this problem because, unfortunately, I don't have the security of free speech to talk about this.
I may be fired in the future for supporting this cause: it's not the KKK, Satanism, or even Nazism.
Recently, there have been many headlines pointing to Texas speech pathologist Bahia Amawi who refused to sign a contract saying that she would not boycott Israel before the end of her term at that school. She was fired. Her choice to buy this brand and not a brand that supports Israel cost Amawi her job.
This is the plight of many supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement, commonly referred to as BDS. This movement has its roots in fighting the illegal and deadly occupation that Israel has over the Palestinian people. The goal of this movement is to use non-violence to fight the injustices that have been thrown upon the Palestinians since 1948, the commencement of their struggle to remain in their homeland. These are people for whom the UN has set up hospitals and schools, which were bombed by the Israeli army.
Many scholars are calling it apartheid, mirroring the apartheid in South Africa almost three decades ago. You know what Nelson Mandela, and many anti-apartheid groups, preached? The use of boycott against the state that is doing harm to innocent people. Something else Mandela preached? The freedom of the Palestinian people. On the UN's International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in 1997, he said, "We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians." He also commented "that injustice and gross human rights violations were being perpetrated in Palestine," and in 2003 posed to the world, "Why [is the US] not seeking to confiscate weapons of mass destruction from their ally Israel?" Clearly, this champion of human rights that Americans love to praise is calling on us to take action against the monstrosities committed by the State of Israel.
No one is saying that Americans have to support this movement. I am, along with American professors, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and politicians such as Bernie Sanders and Dianne Feinstein, taking a stand against this restriction of our first amendment.
How is it that Americans can be a part of hate groups but cannot support a cause that is backed by Nelson Mandela's ideology? Why can't an American citizen criticize the actions of a foreign government?
The answer is, we can. And we should be allowed to. Period.
The laws that stopped Amawi from being employed in Texas are being proposed in Congress. Right now. If we let cases like this Texas residents pass by without serious ridicule, Congress could start chipping away at our first amendment rights.