An Open Letter to the Massachusetts Legislature From the Massachusetts Freedom to Boycott Coalition

“Non violence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding…It is a sword that heals.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘Why We Can’t Wait,’ 1963

The Massachusetts Freedom to Boycott Coalition asks the Massachusetts legislature to heed Dr. King’s words and protect our right to non-violent protest. Legislation filed in the 2017-2018 session  (Bill SD 922/HD 779) is similar to that of dozens of other anti-boycott bills introduced into state legislatures across the country: to curb Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), a peaceful and legitimate strategy for leveraging consumer and constituent power to persuade Israel to comply with international law and to respect Palestinian human rights.

The US Supreme Court ruled in 1982 in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. that boycotts intended to effect political, social or economic change are protected by the First Amendment.  Such boycotts have been essential tools in US movements for civil rights, labor, the environment, and the struggle against South African Apartheid. As grassroots groups building stronger Massachusetts communities, we are concerned that anti-boycott legislation is not only an unconstitutional violation of free speech, but a threat to our right to organize.

We urge Massachusetts lawmakers to respect constituents who – like growing numbers of Americans across the country – recognize the capacity of boycotts to bring about positive change in Palestine/Israel and the rest of the world as it is forged into Dr. King’s healing sword.

Over 100 Massachusetts organizations have signed onto the coalition:

Community Empowerment Organizations

  • Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts
  • Union of Minority Neighborhoods
  • Asian American Resource Workshop
  • Syrian American Forum New England Chapter
  • United American Indians of New England
  • Palestinian House of New England

Anti-Racist Organizations

  • Black Lives Matter Boston
  • Black Lives Matter Cambridge
  • Community Change Inc.
  • Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)  Boston

Jewish Organizations

  • Jewish Voice for Peace – Boston
  • Jewish Voice for Peace – Western Massachusetts
  • Jewish Voice for Peace – Tufts
  • Jewish Women for Justice in Israel/Palestine

Muslim Organizations

  • Council on American-Islamic Relations – Massachusetts
  • Islamic Society of Northeastern University
  • Muslim Justice League

Church Organizations

  • Arlington Street Church – Social Action Committee
  • Christ Church Cambridge, Walking in Love Committee
  • Community Church of Boston
  • First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain
  • Friends of Sabeel – New England
  • Palestine Israel Task Team of First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, UCC
  • Peace & Justice Committee of First Parish in Bedford, MA Unitarian-Universalist
  • St. Francis and St. Theresa Catholic Worker of Worcester
  • Tree of Life Educational Fund
  • Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Mid-East MA
  • Unitarian Universalist Mass Action Network

LGBTQ Organizations

  • Black and Pink
  • Out Now

Women’s & Feminist Organizations

  • Association of Haitian Women in Boston (AFAB)
  • Boston Feminists for Liberation
  • Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Environmental Justice Organizations

  • Better Future Project
  • Boston Climate Action Network

Legal Organizations

  • Bill of Rights Defense Committee
  • Defending Dissent Foundation
  • National Lawyers Guild – Massachusetts Chapter
  • Unbound: Harvard Journal of the Legal Left

International Aid Organizations

  • Grassroots International
  • 1for3.org
  • Ignacio Martin-Baro Fund for Mental Health and Human Rights

Political Organizations

  • Progressive Massachusetts
  • Freedom Road Socialist Organization
  • International Socialist Organization – Boston
  • The Office of Alisa Klein, Northampton City Councilor
  • Massachusetts Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

Labor Organizations

  • Brazilian Workers Center
  • Executive Board & Members of United Steelworkers of America Local 8751
  • Western Massachusetts Labor for Palestine

Housing Organizations

  • City Life/Vida Urbana

Student & Faculty Organizations

  • Boston University Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Eradicate Boston College Racism
  • Faculty & Staff for Justice in Palestine at UMass Boston
  • Hampshire Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee
  • Harvard Law School Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
  • Harvard Law School Students for Inclusion
  • Northeastern Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Palestine Caucus, a Student Organization at Harvard Kennedy School
  • Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine
  • UMass Amherst Students for Justice in Palestine
  • UMass Boston Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Wellesley College Students for Justice in Palestine

Peace and Justice Organizations

  • Massachusetts Peace Action
  • Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia
  • American Friends Service Committee – Cambridge
  • Cafe Palestina – Forum for Peace and Justice in Palestine and Israel
  • Cambridge United for Justice with Peace
  • Code Pink – Greater Boston
  • Code Pink – Western Massachusetts
  • Committee for Peace and Human Rights
  • Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador
  • Dorchester People for Peace
  • Eastern Massachusetts Anti-Drones Network
  • Newton Dialogues on Peace and War
  • No More Guantanamos
  • North Shore Coalition for Peace and Justice
  • United for Justice with Peace
  • Veterans for Peace, Chapter 9, Smedley D. Butler Brigade
  • Veterans for Peace, Samantha Smith Chapter
  • Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment
  • Western Massachusetts Coalition for Palestine
  • Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine
  • Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights
  • Cambridge Bethlehem People to People Project
  • Kairos/Franklin County Justice for Palestine
  • Palestine Advocacy Project

Criminal Justice Organizations

  • Families for Justice as Healing
  • Real Cost of Prisons Project
  • Young Abolitionists

Arts Organizations

  • Foundation Movement
  • Intelligent Mischief
  • Make Shift Boston

Corporate Accountability Organizations

  • Corporate Accountability International
  • Massachusetts Global Action/Encuentro 5

Immigration Advocacy Organizations

  • Project Voice, American Friends Service Committee, Massachusetts

Healthcare Organizations

  • The Meeting Point

For more information contact Liza@JewishVoiceforPeace.org