(JTA) – In a major victory for pro-Israel advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal against an Arkansas state law requiring all companies that contract with the state to sign a pledge promising not to boycott Israel.
The Tuesday dismissal reverses a lower court decision that had rendered the law unconstitutional, ending efforts to overturn one of many state laws that had been crafted in opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. As in most of its denials, the Supreme Court did not provide a reason why it declined to take up the case.
The case had pitted the Arkansas Times, an independent alt-weekly publication, against the former chairman of the University of Arkansas. Under state law, all companies seeking to do business with Arkansas state entities must sign a pledge promising not to engage in any Israel boycotts. The Arkansas Times does not boycott Israel, but had refused to sign the pledge. That refusal led one of the university system’s affiliates to end an advertising agreement with the Arkansas Times, prompting the publication to sue.
Arkansas’ law is one of several nationwide that restrict business with companies that boycott Israel or refuse to sign anti-boycott pledges. These laws largely sprang up amid the growth of the BDS movement and have been criticized by progressive groups as well as by First Amendment advocates.
Federal courts have struck down similar state laws in the past, but last year, a federal appeals court ruled that such laws are not unconstitutional because financial regulations should be considered “noncommunicative” speech. The Supreme Court’s rejection of the Arkansas case is likewise a promising development for the so-called anti-BDS legal strategy.
Tuesday’s decision was celebrated by pro-Israel groups including the American Jewish Committee and the Brandeis Center For Human Rights Under Law, which had filed briefs on behalf of Arkansas in lower court decisions.
“The Supreme Court has confirmed our view that state statutes opposing BDS are indeed constitutional,” AJC General Counsel Marc Stern said in a statement. “The primary aim of the BDS movement is to eliminate the State of Israel. The court’s action gives a boost to efforts to put a stop to the pernicious effort to isolate Israel economically and morally.”
Brandeis Center founder Kenneth Marcus said in a statement, “Anti-Israel boycotts will now be seen for what they are: discriminatory conduct rather than political speech.”
Alan Leveritt, publisher of the Arkansas Times, said in a statement that he was “disappointed” with the court’s decision. “Permitting state governments to withhold state contracts from citizens who voice opinions contrary to those held by a majority of their state legislators is abhorrent and a violation of the Bill of Rights,” he wrote.
Leveritt added that his paper had “zero interest” in getting involved in Israel politics, and that it had been opposing the law on free-speech grounds. It was backed in its legal battle by the American Civil Liberties Union and progressive Jewish groups including T’ruah and J Street, as well as by the rabbi of Arkansas’ largest Jewish congregation, who said the state had not consulted with its Jewish population when it drafted the law.
Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, criticized Jewish groups that celebrated the court’s ruling. She tweeted that AJC and others like it “are celebrating a court ruling that undermines Americans’ right to boycott ANYTHING as a matter of protest/conscience.”
Friedman recently authored a memo arguing that anti-BDS laws were being used as templates for other state laws dealing with different kinds of boycotts, including against the firearms and fossil fuel industries, as well as in state-level efforts to reduce the growing trend of environmental, social and corporate governance investing.
“This is a missed opportunity but not a ruling on the merits of the case,” tweeted documentary filmmaker Julia Bacha, whose new film “Boycott” tracks the Arkansas Times’ legal battle. “The fight to protect boycotts continue[s].”
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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