Nebraskans for Peace says Slama bill targeting boycotts of Israel violates free speech

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Sen. Julie Slama has a bill (LB 343) banning companies that contract with state and local agencies from boycotting Israel.

The bill basically says the state or local governments cannot enter into a contract with a company unless the company promises not to boycott Israel.

It would not apply to smaller companies and contracts worth less than $100,000.

Nebraskans for Peace opposes this bill, saying it violates the First Amendment.

“If I criticize the Chinese regime, I don’t hate Chinese,” Member Sharon Conlon said at a Thursday press conference. “We’re all criticizing Russia’s invasion; we don’t hate Russians. We, we’re free in our country to criticize any government we want. That’s what free speech is.

“Why would our government want to take away that right of political speech to criticize another government?” she asked.

Nebraskans for Peace said anti-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) laws not only punish individuals, but also nonprofits.

The group said the United Methodist Church, for example, could be barred from contracting with the state to run social services like soup kitchens, homeless shelters or youth programs because of pro-BDS actions.

Slama released a statement saying:

“Israel is a beacon of freedom in the Middle East. The BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions) Movement is rooted in anti-Semitism and intends to wipe Israel from the map.

I’m proud to sponsor LB 343 to ensure Nebraska’s taxpayer dollars are not used to support this hateful movement in state contracts.

35 other states have passed similar legislation or executive orders, all of which have been upheld by the courts. LB 343 is long overdue in Nebraska.”

Nebraskans for Peace said a federal court blocked the anti-BDS law in Texas because it was found to violate the First Amendment.

The group fears that if LB 343 is passed and later challenged and thrown out, the cost of legal proceedings could burden Nebraska taxpayers.

The bill is Slama’s priority bill, so it will be on the floor for debate.

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