Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich dismissed a challenge to the state’s anti-BDS law saying that it prevents discrimination while upholding the rights given by the US First Amendment, which protects free speech. He also says the BDS movement strengthens terrorism and the most murderous terror organizations.
The Arizona anti-BDS law, passed in 2016 is among 26 other laws passed by states across the United States that prevent individuals and companies from receiving state funds while boycotting Israel.
This law was challenged by Mikkel Jordahl, a lawyer and BDS supporter who provides legal advice to inmates in Arizona’s Coconino County Detention Facility saying that it infringes on his first amendment rights of free speech.
According to the motion to dismiss Brnovich states “The law prohibits all state contractors, who receive taxpayer money, from discriminating on the basis of national origin. Nothing in the statute prevents the defendant from exercising his First Amendment rights”.
Brnovich has also stated, “The effect, and often goal of BDS boycotts is to strengthen the hand of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which pays cash stipends to the families of terrorists, and its governmental coalition partner — and terrorist organization — Hamas. The First Amendment does not leave the State powerless to prevent its commerce from furthering such unsavory — and frequently murderous — ends.”
Jordahl’s case failed to convince the attorney general that the law is a violation of free speech, for a wide variety of reasons, among them:
- Statute is Aimed at Preventing Discrimination: the law deals only with discriminatory conduct and does not prevent free speech.
- Is Not a Free Speech Issue: the statute regulates conduct, not speech. The plaintiff and others are free to criticize Israel, donate to groups that call for boycotts, etc.
- Statute Doesn’t Apply to Plaintiff’s Actions: Jordahl, the plaintiff, is not engaged in a boycott of Israel; his boycott is limited to a handful of companies whose perceived political views he finds objectionable.
The BDS Movement has been linked to terrorism and antisemitism. Anti-BDS laws are being challenged in a number of states in recent days. The law does not exist to stifle anybody’s free speech rather to prevent states from investing in individuals and companies who boycott Israel and strengthening terrorism.