It should go without saying that one’s opinions on the desirability or validity of BDS as a policy are totally irrelevant to this discussion. It’s self-evident that a belief in “free speech” compels one to defend with equal vigor the right to express views with which one agrees and those with which one vehemently disagrees. The issue here, obviously, is not whether BDS is a persuasive policy but whether people should be criminalized for advocating it. As extremist and oppressive as it is, the criminalization of BDS activism is increasing in multiple places around the world.

Where are all the newfound free speech activists who insisted after the Charlie Hebdo murders that a defense of free expression was so vital to all that is good and just in the Western world? Why isn’t the #JeSuisBDS hashtag trending in defense of these activists who have been persecuted — prosecuted — by France for their political views? The answer is clear: Many who reveled in wrapping themselves in the “free speech” banner earlier this year — beginning with France itself and extending throughout the West — have no genuine belief in that right. That’s why these countries not only stand silent in the face of such a fundamental assault on free speech, but aggressively perpetrate those abuses.