Today, in response to news that the Iowa governor signed two bills into law — one codifying the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and one penalizing Americans who call for boycott of Israel or Israeli settlements — Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund, released the following statement:
“Democracies protect free speech and dissent; they don’t silence critics. Yet these two laws will work in tandem to gag free speech when it comes to Israel. We stand with those who oppose them.
“Iowa’s updated ‘anti-BDS’ law allows the state to more effectively punish those who oppose settlements, including the ice cream purveyor Ben & Jerry’s. It seeks to make a future where two states, Israel and Palestine, sit side by side impossible—indeed, even unsayable. The Iowa governor coupled the passage of this bill with another that entrenches the IHRA definition of antisemitism in law. Yet, in codifying this definition of antisemitism legally, Iowa’s governor is misusing and exploiting it in order to suppress legitimate free speech—criticism of Israeli government actions and advocacy for Palestinian rights.
“The New Israel Fund does not support the BDS movement, but anyone who cares about democratic freedoms understands that there is no stop on the path towards a more just and equal future for Israelis and Palestinians that includes stifling free speech. We at the New Israel Fund proudly and firmly oppose this bill and any other bill that silences dissent and erases the Green Line. Alongside our partners and grantees in Israel, we will continue leading the charge to protect the democratic values and institutions we hold dear.”