We recently reported on legislation in Illinois barring state pension funds from investing in companies that boycott Israel.
The legislation passed both chambers unanimously, a stunning bi-partison rejection of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Gov. Bruce Rauner has promised to sign the legislation.
The BDS movement is screaming about the legislation because while boycotting Israelis is cool with them, bocotting the boycotters is the worst violation of human rights ever. That’s not much of an exaggeration as to their response — it is full blown hissy-fit which mischaracterizes the legislation as suppressing speech.
The reaction from BDS not only has been a hissy fit, it has been bizarre and revealing. Jewish Voice for Peace, one of the most aggressive BDS organizations, is demanding the State Department change its long-standing definition of anti-Semitism.
I’ve long argued that the anti-Israel boycotters, particularly in academia, were forfeiting their standing to complain when the boycotts boomeranged and were turned on them.
I’d rather that BDS never started this fight, but it did and now BDS supporters are realizing they are swimming in the ocean of a pro-Israel American population. The campus and faculty lounge anti-Israel bubbles are exceptions, not the rule.
And that strong and increasing public support of Israel is being expressed through elected representatives.
The Illinois legislation came at a time of two pending federal bills targeting the international boycott of Israel.
But states may be where the action will be, as NY legislators plan to introduced a bill similar to the one passed in Illinois:
Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) and his colleagues are working on a bill to prevent New York State’s pension fund from doing business with companies that boycott Israel. The bill already has the support of more than a dozen Assembly Members on both sides of the aisle and follows on the overwhelming success of a similar bill that was unanimously passed in the Illinois legislature and is set to be signed by the State’s Governor.
“Thanks to a well-oiled propaganda machine, Israel is a uniquely vilified nation state,” Hikind said. “The BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), the strategy of economic warfare, is rooted in anti-Semitism and a denial of Israel’s right to exist. It’s purpose is to delegitimize Israel.
New York should be fertile ground for such legislation since it’s Human Rights Law already bars discriminatory boycotts based on national origin. That law played an important role in the Ithaca, NY, GreenStar Food Coop rejecting an anti-Israel boycott petition.
This bill is very different from the academic boycott bill introduced in early 2014 after the American Studies Association academic boycott of Israel. That prior bill was overly broad and sought to punish universities because of the actions of some faculty — a big mistake since universities took this as an infringement of their academic freedom; it also made no sense since over 250 university presidents rejected the academic boycott and no university (at least not in NY) is even considering boycotting Israel, so the legislation did not even target the problem.
Professor Eugene Kontorovich nicely summed up the politics involved:
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.
I assume there will be many more such legislative efforts in the states, considering both Indiana and Tennessee have condemned the BDS movement.
How about slogan for the “boycott the boycotters” movement:
The People, United [in support of Israel], Will Never Be Defeated.
[Featured Image: BDS protester San Francisco, Summer 2014]DONATE
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