South Carolina passed an anti-BDS bill, that was signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley yesterday, prohibiting the state from doing businesses with firm or individuals who engage in a “boycott of a person or an entity based in or doing business with a jurisdiction with whom South Carolina can enjoy open trade.”

The Jerusalem Post reports:

The bill makes no mention of Israel directly, but prevents public entities from contracting with businesses engaging in the “boycott of a person or an entity based in or doing business with a jurisdiction with whom South Carolina can enjoy open trade.”

The premise of the law is that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, colloquially known as BDS, discriminates against the people of Israel and weakens the economy of South Carolina.

“Boycott,” for the purposes of the law, is defined as the effort by companies to “blacklist, divest from or otherwise refuse to deal with a person or firm when the action is based on race, color, religion, gender or national origin of the targeted person or entity,” according to the text.

The South Carolina bill was signed into law a few weeks after Illinois passed legislation prohibiting the state from investing its pension funds in businesses that boycott Israel. Shortly afterwards Prof. Jacobson reported that New York had started working on a bill similar to the Illinois bill. Prof. Jacobson also quoted law professor Eugene Kontorovich on the significance of the Illinois bill:

The significance of the [Illinois] bill cannot be underestimated. European countries have in recent years been whispering dark threats in corporate ears about the “legal and economic risks” of doing business with Israeli companies. The vagueness of these warnings is a testament to their legal groundlessness. But such scare tactics could not help but affect, at the margin, corporate decision-making. Now, the EU will – if it is honest – have to warn businesses of the legal and economic risks of consciously refusing to do business with such Israeli companies.

More generally, the Illinois bill is part of a broad political revulsion over the long-simmering BDS movement (“Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” – the strategy of economic warfare and delegitimization against Israel). While BDS has gotten most of its successes with low-hanging fruit like British academic unions and pop singers, the anti-boycott efforts are getting an enthusiastic reception in real governments, on the state and federal level. And that is because the message of the BDS movement – Israel as a uniquely villainous state – is fundamentally rejected by the vast majority of Americans.

The Post reports that according to a spokesman for the Israel Allies Foundation, ““a bloc of sponsors across 18 states has already committed to introducing similar legislation in their next legislative cycle.” The  Israel Allies Foundation is working on fighting BDS at the state level.

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