Legislative Campaigns 2017

VCHR meets with Delegate Sam Rasoul

VCHR members meet with Delegate Sam Rasoul on January 31, 2017.

U.S. Congress 2017 - HR2407

What is HR2407?

HR2407, introduced by Congresswoman Betty McCollum in November 2017, is the Promoting of Human Rights by Ending Israel Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act. It opposes jailing Palestinian children by Israeli forces and requires the U.S. Secretary of State to certify that U.S. funds do not support military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.

Why did we support HR2407?

  • We believe that for the U.S. to play a constructive role in peace making, we must ensure not to inflict trauma on Palestinian youth entangled in the Israeli Military Detention system.
  • This legislation recognizes and acts upon the inherent dignity and worth of Palestinian children
  • This legislation sends the message that the U.S. is committed to a future with freedom, safety, and equality for both Palestinians and Israelis.

What was the outcome?

HR2407 currently has 23 cosponsors.

U.S. Congress 2017 - S720/HR1697

What is S720/HR1697?

This bill expands the Export Administration Act of 1979 to prohibit U.S. companies from complying with boycotts of Israel in response to calls by the U.N., the E.U., or other international governmental organizations. The bill includes severe civil and criminal penalties. The bill would also direct the Export-Import Bank to deny loans to companies engaged in politically-motivate boycotts of Israel.

Why did we oppose S720/HR1697?

  • It would suppress free speech rights of Americans
  • It would constitute an assault on the United Nations.
  • It would legitimize Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.
  • It would empower the executive branch to intimidate human rights activities with threats of prosecution and prison time.

What was the outcome?

S720/HR1697 was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, which agreed to seek consideration under suspension of the rules, by unanimous consent.

Virginia General Assembly 2017 - HB 2261

What is HB 2261?

HB 2261 inserts into the Code of Virginia a measure to discourage any criticism of the State of Israel or its government by citizens of the Commonwealth, including students at public universities. HB 2261 does this by amending the Virginia Human Rights Act (HRA) to:

  1. Include anti-Semitism as a form of religious discrimination;
  2. Reference the 2010 State Department definition of anti-Semitism as including any discourse that “demonizes”, “delegitimizes” and holds to a “double standard” the policies and actions of the Israeli government;
  3. Require governing boards of public universities to issue policies prohibiting discrimination as defined in HRA.

Why did we oppose HB 2261?

  • HB 2261 singles out one type of religious discrimination, anti-Semitism, over all others that may occur on college campuses.
  • HB 2261 uses the State Department's definition of anti-Semitism, which is overly broad. It originates from Europe, where it was intended to define anti-Semitism for data collection purposes and not as a precise legal definition.
  • HB 2261 stifles free speech by equating legitimate political opposition to Israel's policies and actions with anti-Semitism or hate speech.

What was the outcome?

HB 2261 was left in House Committee on General Laws.

Virginia General Assembly 2017 - HR 303

What is HR 303?

  • HR 303 denounces the intimidation of the Commonwealth's residents, affirming the commitment to diversity and safeguarding the civil rights and dignity of all Virginians.
  • HR 303 denounces hate speech, hate crimes, harassment, racial bias, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-immigrant activity, harmful bias, and discrimination in all forms.

Why did we support HR 303?

  • According to Attorney General Mark Herring, "The FBI said 158 hate crimes were reported in Virginia in 2015. Two-thirds were motivated by a bias on race, ethnicity, or ancestry, 15 percent by religious bias, and 15 percent by sexual-orientation bias. Hate crimes in Virginia have increased 21 percent from 2014 to 2015."
  • During the last election cycle, there was an increase in anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric at the National level. This has trickled down around Virginia, and both immigrants and Muslims report feeling targeted and fearful.

What was the outcome?

HR 303 was tabled in House Committee on Rules.