US Senators introduce bill to counter anti-Israel boycotts

A bipartisan group of 19 US senators is promoting a bill that assists in the war against the anti-Israel BDS movement. 

US Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are leading a bipartisan group of 19 senators in introducing the Combating BDS Act, a bill to fight back against the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement’s economic warfare against the Jewish state.

The bill, which was submitted Wednesday, updates last year’s legislation proposed by Manchin and former Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL). It would increase protections for state and local governments in the United States that decide to divest from, prohibit investment in, or restrict contracting with companies knowingly engaged in commerce-related or investment-related BDS activity targeting Israel.

“This legislation supports efforts by state governments and local communities to use the power of the purse to counter the BDS movement’s economic warfare targeting Israel,” said Rubio. “This bipartisan bill is all the more timely after the United Nations Security Council’s passage of Resolution 2334, a deplorable one-sided measure that harms Israel and effectively encourages the BDS movement’s campaigns to commercially and financially target and discriminate against the Jewish state.”

“This legislation is an important step forward in reassuring Israel that we are protecting our shared national security interests, while also protecting our joint economic interests,” said Manchin. “This bipartisan legislation gives state and local governments a legal way to combat the shameful boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. Israel has been our strongest ally in the Middle East and we need to send them a strong signal that we will do everything in our power to fight the BDS movement.”

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“Israel’s opponents are using boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as a hateful weapon to delegitimize the Jewish State and its allies, Rubio said in a statement. “At a time when anti-Israel boycotts are popping up around the country and the globe, the United States, Israel and our allies need new ways to defend against the evolving threat of economic warfare.”

Supporting State Efforts to Combat BDS

Similar to earlier state-based efforts to divest from companies doing business with Iran and Sudan, a new movement among state and local governments is growing to enact measures to divest from, prohibit investment in, and restrict contracting with entities engaged in discriminatory BDS conduct targeting Israel.

The Combating BDS Act strengthens these efforts by affirming the legal authority of state and local governments to take tangible actions to counter economic warfare against Israel.

The bill clarifies that state and local governments have the legal authority to identify and divest public funds from entities engaged in BDS conduct when the designations are based on “credible information available to the public.” The bill’s safe harbor for asset managers will also give them an offensive capability against entities seeking to economically harm Israel.

Michigan was the most recent state to pass a bill protecting Israel from boycotts, marking the latest step in the fight against BDS on the state level.

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Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Rhode Island have passed bills fighting boycotts against Israel.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in June signed an executive order banning state agencies from investing in companies that support boycotts on Israel.

More than 20 states are considering, or have passed, legislation targeting companies that comply with the anti-Israel BDS movement, and many countries around the world have introduced and passed similar laws.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News