Special Public Outcry: TPP (Federal) and Anti-BDS (New York State)

Human and Civil Rights Alerts!!!

Please contact
– your federal Senators and Congress members re the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
– your local NYS Assemblymember re Anti-Boycott/Divestment/&Sanction legislation
The first, detailed below, outlaws specific constitutionally-protected political action. And the second allows corporations to make their own rules and judge their own cases. Both are severe challenges to our civil and human rights. Again, see below.
And go to
to find all of your federal and state representatives.
Peace and Thanks.

TPP per Democracy Now! Feb 4, 2016:
One of the world’s biggest multinational trade deals, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has been signed by 12 member nations in New Zealand and will now undergo a two-year ratification period in which at least six countries must approve the final text for the deal to be implemented. The Trans-Pacific Partnership encompasses 12 Pacific Rim nations, including the United States, and 40 percent of the world’s economy. Opponents say it will benefit corporations at the expense of health, the environment, free speech and labor rights.
Activists have kicked off a worldwide series of protests around the signing of the trade pact, including a nonviolent blockade of the convention center in Auckland where the signing took place. A Maori tribe refused a request to perform at a welcome ceremony for trade ministers, saying the TPP threatens sovereignty.
Meanwhile, the White House has warned Congress that a delay in ratifying the deal will cost the U.S. economy. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the Obama administration is doing everything in its power to move it forward. But Lori Wallach of Public Citizen, argues, “We have to make sure every member of Congress says there’s no way, we’re not meant to do this.” The deal has also become a campaign issue, and Wallach notes, “There’s no presidential candidate in any state polling over 5 percent who supports the TPP.”

TPP per Public Citizen:
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): More Job Offshoring, Lower Wages, Unsafe Food Imports
Have you heard? The TPP is a massive, controversial, pro-corporate “free trade” agreement among the United States and 11 other countries – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Although it is called a “trade” agreement, the TPP is not mainly about trade. Of TPP’s 30 chapters, only six deal with traditional trade issues.
Secret TPP Text Unveiled: It’s Worse than We Thought
In early November 2015, after seven years of close-door negotiations with the public, press and policymakers locked out, the final TPP text was released. In chapter after chapter, the final text is worse than expected, with the demands of the 500 official U.S. trade advisers representing corporate interests satisfied to the detriment of the public interest. The text reveals that the pact replicates many of the most controversial terms of past pacts that promote job offshoring and push down U.S. wages.

If passed, the TPP would:

– make it easier for big corporations to ship our jobs overseas, pushing down our wages and increasing income inequality,
– flood our country with unsafe imported food,
– jack up the cost of medicines by giving big pharmaceutical corporations new monopoly rights to keep lower cost generic drugs off the market,
– empower corporations to attack our environmental and health safeguards,
– ban Buy American policies needed to create green jobs,
– roll back Wall Street reforms,
– sneak in SOPA-like threats to Internet freedom,
– and undermine human rights.

The TPP can take effect only if the U.S. Congress approves it, and its fate in Congress is uncertain at best. Fast Track trade authority only passed through Congress by the narrowest of margins after a series of legislative maneuvers, with reluctant support from some key swing members contingent upon certain provisions being in the final TPP. The released text shows these concerns have been largely ignored.

And an unprecedented array of organizations have joined together in a powerful and diverse coalition to stop the TPP. Groups united on this extend well beyond labor unions and include consumer, Internet freedom, senior, health, food safety, environmental, human rights, faith, LGBTQ, student and civil rights organizations. Opposition to the TPP is growing at home and in many of the other countries involved.

Dangerous Anti-BDS Legislation Blacklists Political Activists

Hi, All! For those of you who haven’t heard about the anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) bills:
– A bill was passed quickly in the NYS Senate that would blacklist and ban companies that are boycotting an ally country of the US, from doing business with NYS. The boycotts being targeted by this legislation are those directed at Israeli businesses operating in the (illegal) settlements, although it would apply to boycotts etc. re any allied country. The bill passed the Senate with no debate (Sens. Kennedy, Pannepinto, and some 96 senators voted in favor with only 6 NYC senators voting against).
– See huge problems with the bills re (BDS) below under talking points.
– We had a conference call with Leah Halton-Pope, aide to Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes. We are hoping the bill can be stopped in the Governmental Operations Committee the Assemblywoman chairs due to the illegal nature of the action, i.e., blacklisting those engaging in constitutionally-protected political action. PeaceAction NYS, Jewish Voices for Peace, End the Occupation, and Palestinian Legal were all on the conference call with the WNYPC.

Below also is the WNYPC Memo in Opposition
We are hoping many groups will file Memos in Opposition and send them to the Governmental Operations Committee. You can use ours below as a prototype. Also Leah suggested we reach out to members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus that she is also part of, a logical and cogent move.
Letters to the Editor would also be very helpful. There’ve already been 3 in two days from the pro-Israel anti-BDS side, calling us anti-Semites, etc. Couldn’t be more incorrect. Any moves to increase public awareness are great. We will also be reaching out to our local officials at all levels.
If political action against “allies” is outlawed, how well will it be received re the US Govt? The implications are terrible.
We hope you can help out. We’re all in this together.
Peace and Thanks.

Talking Points for New York State Bills
Note: There are two distinct but similar bills at issue:
1. S.6378A/A.9036 — applies to boycotts of “ally” countries, including Israel (This bill is moving)
2. S.6086/A8220 — applies specifically to boycotts of Israel

Talking Points (these talking points focus on Israel but apply to both bills)
– These bills infringe on our First Amendment rights to free speech by 1) creating a blacklist of individuals, companies, and nonprofits that boycott Israel because of its human rights abuses; 2) denying those on the blacklist the opportunity to do business with New York, and 3) requiring the state’s public pensions to divest from businesses that boycott Israel.
– The Supreme Court has long held that boycotts to bring about political, social, and economic change are protected under the First Amendment. In fact, our country has a proud history of protecting boycotts as a form of political speech – from pre-Civil War boycotts against slavery to the Montgomery bus boycotts during the Civil Rights Movement to the boycott of apartheid South Africa.
– New York should be a leader on human rights issues. It has no business shielding Israel from boycotts protesting human rights abuses and settlements, which are considered illegal under international law and violate official US policy going back decades.
– Even Human Rights Watch recently issued a report calling for companies to cease doing business with illegal Israeli settlements. Incidentally, Human Rights Watch, one of the most respected human rights defenders in the country, would be blacklisted under these bills.
– Our state legislature should be passing laws that protect our First Amendment rights, not laws that restrict those rights.
– As someone who supports the BDS movement, I would be blacklisted by the State of New York if these bills pass.
– Efforts such as these to punish individuals who choose to engage in boycotts to protest Israeli human rights abuses have an unconstitutional chilling effect on the First Amendment right of all Americans to engage in human rights boycotts of any kind.

WNY Peace Center
1272 Delaware Ave Buffalo, New York 14209 Phone: (716) 332-3904
Victoria Ross, Director
Phone: (716) 931-3520

Memorandum of Opposition
Anti-Boycott Bills
S6086/Gianaris and A8220/Lavine S6378A/Martins and A9036/Weinstein
Position: OPPOSE February 2, 2016

The Western New York Peace Center is a community-based peace and social justice organization founded in the 1960s. Its office is located in Buffalo, New York, and it has a circulation list of nearly 2,000 Western New Yorkers. For fifty years the Peace Center has resisted war and injustice and has been a voice for peace, justice, non-violence, and human and civil rights. We oppose the “anti-boycott bills” listed above because they attempt to legitimize injustice and because they are a direct assault on free speech and the right of individuals and organizations to oppose injustice.

Specifically, the bills listed above are designed to undermine and “outlaw” the Constitutionally- guaranteed right of individuals and businesses in New York State to join boycotts to protest Israeli human rights violations against the Palestinian people. These bills would prevent any person or company participating in a boycott related to Israeli human rights abuses from doing business with the State of New York. Also, the state’s pension fund would have to divest from such companies. The bill would create a McCarthy Era-like blacklist that would include our group as well as a great number of prestigious organizations like Human Rights Watch, which has issued a report on the violence and injustice caused by Israeli settlements on Palestinian land and called on companies to stop doing business with them.

The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that boycotts to bring about political, social, and economic change are protected under the First Amendment. We should never forget the honorable and meritorious role boycotts have played in achieving civil rights in the U.S. and ending apartheid in South Africa. Now, as Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, and many other leaders have proclaimed, we face another form of apartheid – one inflicted against the Palestinian people by the State of Israel. This apartheid deserves similar condemnation and opposition including by boycotts.

Human rights abuses take place daily in the occupied territories. Moreover, Israel has allowed and encouraged Jewish settlers to steal the land of Palestinians who are ruled by a repressive Israeli military regime. These settlements are major stumbling blocks to peace and are regarded as illegal by the international community. Today, there are an incredible 200+ settlements and 650,000 Israeli settlers. In this arid land, settlers have also seized water resources which don’t belong to them and which are necessary for survival.

We want to make clear that our opposition to these bills has nothing to do with anti-Semitism – though we realize that over-zealous supporters of the bills may try to characterize and dismiss all opponents by making false charges of this type against them. Like the United States, Israel is not a perfect nation and it can and should be criticized on its merits. Our criticism of the settlements is not an expression of prejudice toward members of the Jewish faith. In fact, many Jews and Jewish organizations strenuously oppose the injustice of these settlements on Palestinian land. Moreover, the WNY Peace Center has always been strongly opposed to anti-Semitism.

New York should be a leader on human rights issues. Accordingly, it should not be shielding Israel from boycotts protesting human rights abuses in the settlements. Not only are these settlements illegal under international law, they violate official US policy going back decades.
The Western New York Peace Center opposes the bills listed above for all these reasons and respectfully requests that the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo firmly and unequivocally reject them.