Virginia is crushing our free speech.

FWNNK1 Nablus, West Bank, Palestinian Territory. 5th Apr, 2016. A Palestinian man harvests red carpets of Anemone Coronaria flowers, in the West Bank city of Nablus, on April 6, 2016 © Nedal Eshtayah/APA Images/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News

In an increasingly hostile and violent political environment, with attacks on our civil liberties and human rights coming from the top levels of our government, you would hope that Virginia would be legislating to protect us and our political speech, right? Unfortunately, that’s not happening.

A few weeks ago, we let you know about a bill introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates, HB2261, which seeks to equate protected political speech opposing Israel’s human rights violations with religious discrimination. While we were able to successfully delay the bill’s consideration in subcommittee for nearly two weeks, we have learned that it is now going to come before the full House Committee on General Laws, possibly as soon as Tuesday, January 31. We need you to act NOW and tell the House leadership and the members of the General Laws Committee to vote NO on HB2261.

HB2261 inserts into the Code of Virginia a measure to suppress criticism of Israel. It does so by referencing the controversial 2010 State Department definition of anti-Semitism, which includes speech that “demonizes,” “delegitimizes” and holds to a “double standard” the policies and actions of the Israeli government.

Under HB 2261, virtually all criticism of Israel could be interpreted as “demonizing” Israel, and therefore prohibited in employment, housing, and in higher educational institutions. This is an incredibly dangerous bill, so make sure to tell the subcommittee to vote NO on this bill when they meet tomorrow. Take action now!

The Human Rights Coalition of Virginia did incredible work last year that led to the tabling of an anti-BDS bill. Let’s carry that success over to this bill and defeat it before it reaches the House floor. So, write and call these Virginia state legislators and tell them to vote NO on HB2261 now!

P.S.–An op-ed was published in the Richmond Times Dispatch supporting this awful bill. We encourage folks to write a letter to the editor in response, here are directions on how to do so!