The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has decided to mount legal challenges to state laws that prohibit state governments from doing business with corporations that boycott Israel, and likewise opposes the bill now before Congress that will protect such laws. In support of its position, the ACLU’s political director, one of its legal briefs, and several entries on its website have all claimed, erroneously, that these laws require businesses to take a “loyalty oath” to Israel. David Bernstein writes:
Contractors’ certifying that their businesses don’t boycott Israel-related entities is no more a “loyalty oath” to Israel than is certifying that they don’t refuse to deal with black- or gay- or women-owned business, or that they will deal only with unionized businesses, is a “loyalty oath” to blacks, gays, women, or unions. Contractors who sign anti-boycott certifications are free to boycott Israel and related entities in their personal lives, and they and their businesses are free to donate to anti-Israel candidates and causes, and even to publicly advocate for boycotting, divesting from, and sanctioning Israel (BDS). . . .
By spreading the false meme that no-boycott certifications amount to not just loyalty oaths, but loyalty oaths to a foreign government, the ACLU has spread the canard that the pro-Israel (read, overwhelmingly Jewish) organizations and their members want to use the force of the state to require everyone to be “loyal” to Israel.
Some commentators, meanwhile, have taken the ACLU’s exaggerations and upped the ante. Andrew Sullivan, for example, recently portrayed a federal bill permitting states to refuse to deal with contractors who boycott those doing business with or in Israel entities as a bill that would have “made it illegal for any American to boycott goods from the West Bank without suffering real economic consequences from their own government.”
I understand that ACLU lawyers have a responsibility to their clients to win the public-relations war to help with its legal battle, but the organization has disgraced itself by using the “loyalty-oath” canard that it had to know would play on latent and blatant anti-Semitic sentiment. The real shame is that I don’t think that the poobahs at the ACLU care.