The diverse and growing movement in support of freedom, justice, and equality for Palestinians has been met with aggressive efforts by U.S. legislators to suppress speech, often at the urging of the Israeli government and Israel advocacy groups. Since 2014, Palestine Legal has been tracking state and federal legislation and executive orders that target advocacy for Palestinian rights. 

Scope

Palestine Legal tracks U.S. legislation that condemns, restricts, or penalizes constitutionally protected activism that promotes Palestinian freedom and human rights or criticizes Israeli policies. These efforts aim to chill or silence protected protest or lawful political expression, including advocating for or engaging in boycotts, promoting socially responsible investment policies, or other forms of BDS (boycott, divestment, or sanctions). Often these measures seek to link criticism of Israel to antisemitism or support for terrorism. In determining whether legislation targets advocacy for Palestinian rights, we take into account both the text and its context, including statements by lawmakers and legislative history. Legislation addressing U.S. foreign policy or Israeli government practices that does not seek to suppress differing viewpoints is not within the scope of this site. 

Legislation targeting advocacy for Palestinian rights is categorized into the following types on this site: 

  • Anti-boycott legislation aims to punish those who engage in or support BDS or boycotts of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. Anti-boycott legislation often includes prohibitions on state contracts with and/or state investments in entities that support boycotts; this type of legislation also includes defunding efforts to penalize state institutions, including universities, that subsidize faculty or student organizations that support boycotts. 
  • Antisemitism redefinition legislation seeks to incorporate into law a vague, overbroad, and distorted definition of antisemitism that could be interpreted as encompassing virtually all criticism of Israel for use in enforcing civil rights and hate crimes laws. 
  • Affirmative legislation seeks to affirm or protect advocacy for Palestinian rights or to reverse repressive legislation. 
  • Other legislation targeting advocacy for Palestinian rights includes bills within the scope of this site that do not fit in one of the other types.  

We enter each bill or resolution that targets advocacy for Palestinian rights as a separate legislative measure. For example, similar bills introduced in the same legislative session are counted separately, as are unrelated bills that are subsequently amended to include provisions that bring them within the scope of our tracking. We count similar or identical two-house companion bills as two separate legislative measures, as each bill requires a new initiative by different lawmakers. Although we include resolutions targeting advocacy for Palestinian rights on the site, we do not classify them by type, nor are they counted in the statistics or the map. 

Status

This site tracks legislation, defined as state and federal bills, resolutions, and laws that go through the legislative process, as well as state and federal executive orders. For the sake of brevity, in general we use “legislation” to encompass all of these measures, including executive orders. The “status” of legislation indicates its progress in the legislative process or if a law is struck down due to a legal challenge. The timeline feature on the map allows the user to view the change in the status of legislation in each state over time or for a particular year. The statuses used on this site include:

  • Pending: A bill or resolution targeting advocacy for Palestinian rights that has not yet been voted on by the legislature or been defeated. Pending also refers to bills that have been voted on and await approval from the executive branch;
  • In effect: A bill or executive order that has been enacted into law and is currently in effect;
  • Passed: A non-binding resolution that has been passed by one or both houses of the legislature;
  • Defeated: A bill or resolution that failed to pass into law as a result of failing to garner the necessary votes in the legislature, a veto by the executive branch, or expiring at the end of the legislative term—often as a result of legislative advocacy by civil rights and social justice advocates. Where legislation does not come to a vote, we note the end of session or term for the relevant legislature as the defeated date.
  • Struck down by court: A law or executive order the enforcement of which has been blocked through a temporary or permanent order by a court. 

For states marked “No Legislation” on the map, Palestine Legal is not aware of any bills that have been introduced, laws that have been passed, or executive orders adopted by the governor targeting advocacy for Palestinian rights in this state. Contact us if you have information about relevant legislation in a state.

Map & Statistics

The main page of this site includes an interactive map. The map allows users to filter by legislation type, status, and to view legislation over time. The map reflects information on bills and executive orders, but not resolutions or municipal or county legislation.

The statistics at the top of the main page of this site pull data from the following sources:

  • # of bills introduced: includes total number bills and executive orders introduced at the state and federal level regardless of their status, but does not include resolutions or affirmative bills.
  • % of bills passed: reflects the percentage of bills introduced that are currently in effect and includes executive orders.
  • # of states with legislation in effect: includes total number of states with laws or executive orders targeting advocacy for Palestinian rights currently in effect; resolutions and affirmative legislation are not included. 

For more information about our methodology or to share updates or changes to legislation in your state, contact us at info@palestinelegal.org