US/World News

Pro-Israel groups divided on support of anti-boycott bill

(JNS.org) Pro-Israel organizations are divided over a new bill in the U.S. Congress that would pull federal funding from universities that boycott Israel. The bill, titled Protect Academic Freedom Act, proposed by U.S. Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL), has garnered polarizing reactions over whether or not it is constitutional by limiting free speech under the First Amendment.

“This bipartisan legislation seeks to preserve academic freedom and combat bigotry by shielding Israel from unjust boycotts. It is ludicrous for critics to go after our democratic friend and ally Israel when they should be focusing on the evils perpetrated by repressive, authoritarian regimes like Iran and North Korea,” Roskam said in a statement. The bill is aimed at targeting groups like the American Studies Association, which recently voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

“We welcome any effort to challenge or fight the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement in colleges and universities,” Anti-Defamation League Chairman Abraham Foxman said, Buzzfeed reported. “However well-intentioned, we are not sure that this bill would be the most effective means of recourse.”

According to sources, AIPAC may also come out against the bill. In a statement to the Washington Free Beacon, an AIPAC spokesperson said the group is reviewing the proposed legislation. Nevertheless, several other groups came out in support of the bill, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Christians United For Israel, and The Israel Project, according to the Free Beacon.

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