Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights (BCPR)



Jamaica Plain, MA

Tax-Exempt Status:



Palestinian Activist Group



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The Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights (BCPR) is a Boston-based affiliate of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USPCR). USPCR is a nationwide network of left-of-center activists and pressure groups pushing to limit Israel’s political and military influence over neighboring territories and limit U.S. support for the Jewish state. It joined the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at the movement’s inception in 2005 to delegitimize Israel through political and economic pressure. 1



The Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights (BCPR) co-led a demonstration of over 200 people in Harvard Square in early 2002 to protest events in the Middle East. Some protestors disrupted traffic while others dressed as Israeli soldiers pointed fake guns at a woman portraying a Palestinian carrying a sick child. Violence briefly broke out when a passerby punched one of the men dressed as soldiers believing the woman was truly being held at gunpoint. 2

On March 30, 2012, BCPR sponsored a march to commemorate a 1976 General Strike by Arabs in Israel, now known as Palestine Land Day. 3 Protestors condemned U.S. support for Israel and shouted the controversial chants “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “long live the Intifada!” Other sponsors of the march included radical-left groups Veterans for Peace, 4 the Boston chapter of the United National Antiwar Coalition, and the Boston University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.5

In 2014, a coalition of Palestinian activists led by BDS pressured international aid group Oxfam to drop actress Scarlett Johansson as one of its international ambassadors due to her support for Israeli company SodaStream. A coalition including BCPR, Jewish Voice for Peace, and other left-leaning groups delivered a petition with thousands of signatures to the Boston office of Oxfam. 6 Johnansson cut ties with Oxfam due to the controversy and criticized the organization for allegedly funding a BDS movement of its own. 7 The controversy cost Oxfam thousands of donors in the ensuing two years. 8

BCPR claimed to be the largest public group present at Boston’s inaugural “First Night” celebration on New Year’s Eve 2023, 9 and led protests calling for an end to U.S. aid to Israel and called for a ceasefire in Gaza following the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel. The Worker’s World Party, a radical Marxist-Leninist party calling for socialist revolution in the United States, was also involved in the protest, creating signs that read “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, a political chant associated with Hamas and the destruction of Israel. 10 Protestors also chanted “There is only one solution, the Intifada Revolution!” 11

Letters and Public Statements

In 2004, the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights (BCPR) signed onto a letter led by Al-Awda (Palestinian Right to Return Coalition) opposing then-President George W. Bush’s assertion that it was “unrealistic” for Israel to completely vacate the West Bank and for Palestinian refugees to have the “right to return” to lands in Israel. 12

In 2015, BCPR was one of dozens of left-leaning, anti-Israel organizations that sponsored a monthlong speaking tour by Bassem Tamimi, a Palestinian activist who espoused anti-Semitic conspiracy theories including “blood libel, a discredited myth that Jews kill Christian children at Passover and use their blood for bread.” 13 14 15 Other supporters included Amnesty International, a left-leaning international human rights organization; Jewish Voice for Peace; and Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA). 16


In October 2006, the U.S. government revoked the visa of Adam Habib, a South African scholar who has criticized U.S. foreign policy in Israel and Iraq, on grounds of engaging with terrorist actors. The ACLU of Massachusetts brought suit against the Departments of State and Homeland Security, on behalf of American Sociological Association, American Association of University Professors, the Massachusetts chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights (BCPR) in an attempt to regain visa privileges for Habib. Habib was given a ten-year visa in January 2010. 17

Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement

The Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights (BCPR) is active within the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, advocating in favor of companies and governments boycotting the country of Israel. In 2016, Massachusetts State Rep. Steven Howitt (R), the Massachusetts legislature’s only Jewish Republican, introduced a bill to divest state pension funds from companies that boycott, divest, or sanction the State of Israel or Israeli companies. 18 In response, the Massachusetts Right to Boycott Coalition, consisting of 61 groups including BCPR, hand delivered an opposition letter to each state representative, calling the proposal unconstitutional and undemocratic. 19 Rep. Howitt’s bill was defeated, and activists claimed victory. 20

In 2017, U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) introduced the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, a bipartisan bill opposing the United Nations’ Human Rights Council March 2016 resolution encouraging member country companies not to engage in contracts with the Israeli government. BCPR endorsed a letter opposing this bill, which did not advance. 21


  1. “Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights.” New England Network for Justice in Palestine. Accessed February 2, 2024.
  2. Kate L. Rakoczy and Catherine E. Shoichet. “Israel-Related Protests Rock Harvard Square.” The Harvard Crimson. February 22, 2002. Accessed February 2, 2024.
  3. “Remembering Land Day.” BBC News. March 30, 2001. Accessed February 2, 2024.
  4. “Veterans for Peace.” InfluenceWatch. Accessed February 2, 2024.
  5. Frank Neisser. “Boston March for Palestine Land Day.” Workers World. April 16, 2012. Accessed February 1, 2024.
  6. Ali Abunimah. “Oxfam America office refuses to receive petition urging it to dump Scarlett Johansson.”The Electronic Intifada. January 29, 2014. Accessed February 5, 2024.
  7. Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith. “Scarlet (sp) Johansson has no regrets quitting Oxfam for Sodastream ad campaign.” The Independent. March 16, 2014. Accessed February 5, 2024.
  8. [1] David Brindle. Oxfam boss admits errors over Scarlett Johansson row.” The Guardian. December 15, 2016. Accessed February 5. 2024.
  9. Laura Haefeli. “‘Huge turnout’ for First Night Boston at City Hall Plaza.” CBS News. January 1, 2024. Accessed February 2, 2024.
  10. [1] Laurie Kellman. “‘From the river to the sea’: why these 6 words spark fury and passion over the Israel-Hamas war.” Associated Press. November 10, 2023. Accessed February 2, 2024.
  11. Steve Gillis. “Boston Coalition for Palestine tells ‘First Night’ ‘No celebration during genocide’!” January 3, 2024. Accessed February 2, 2024.
  12. Suzanne Goldenberg. “Bush rips up the road map.” The Guardian. April 15, 2004. Accessed February 2, 2024.
  13. “Organizers and Sponsors of Bassem Tamimis September-October, 2015 U.S. Speaking Tour” NGO Monitor. September 10, 2015. Accessed February 1, 2024.
  14. Yair Rosenberg. “Why is Amnesty International Sponsoring a U.S.Tour for a Palestinian Promoter of the Blood Libel?” Tablet. October 16, 2015. Accessed February 2, 2024.
  15. “Blood Libel.” Britannica. Accessed February 5, 2024.
  16. “Blood Libel.” Britannica. Accessed February 5, 2024.
  17. “Adam Habib.” American Civil Liberties Union. Accessed February 1, 2024.
  18. “Bill HD 4156. An Act Relative to Pension Divestment from Companies that Boycott, Divest, and Sanction the State of Israel.” The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Accessed February 2, 2024.
  19. “61 Groups Defend Right to Boycott in Massachusetts.” Rights and Dissent. Accessed February 2, 2024.
  20. Nora Barrows-Friedman. “Activists defeat anti-BDS legislation in Massachusetts.” Electronic Intifada. July 20, 2016. Accessed February 1, 2024.
  21. “100 Groups Call on Congress to Opposed Anti-Israel Boycott Act.” Palestine Legal. August 9, 2017. Updated January 3, 2018. Accessed February 1, 2024.
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Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights (BCPR)

Jamaica Plain, MA