In an attempt to curtail the BDS movement and its encouragement of anti-Israel boycotts, Assembly members are drafting legislation to prohibit government investment in businesses taking part in such efforts.
“This would send a powerful message,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind. “The [Boycott, Divestment, Sanction] movement is involved in a constant effort to get companies to join their cause. Many smaller companies are intimidated. They don’t want to ‘rock the boat.’”
Hikind (D-Brooklyn) felt the legislation would create a clear deterrent against the spread of the movement.
This legislation is to be modeled after an Illinois state bill that unanimously passed both houses. Illinois governor Bruce Rauner has pledged to sign it. There has been discussion of introducing a similar bill in Congress to enact the law on a national level.
The bill would prevent any state finances (mainly the tens of billions in pension funds) from being invested in companies that have been identified as severing dealings with Israel.
According to its official statements, the BDS Movement is an attempt to place international pressure on Israel to “comply with international law and Palestinian rights.” It has gained many adherents throughout the world, especially on college campuses. Spokesmen have insisted that its motivation is “human rights,” not anti-Semitism.
The Palestinian BDS committee, its central organization, did not respond to Hamodia’s inquiry for this article.
“This bill is important because Israel is the only county in the world being singled out for this Boycott Divestment Sanction effort and that’s wrong,” Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Long Island), who plans to co-sponsor the bill, told Hamodia. He said that the singular concentration on Israel betrayed the anti-Semitic motivations of the movement.
Hikind echoed this sentiment, saying, “There is not BDS against Iran or Russia or China, who are all well-known human rights violators.”
Supporters of the BDS movement often hark back to widespread boycotts of apartheid-era South Africa to defend their efforts.
“Companies are at liberty to express their views, but we are at liberty to invest the state’s tremendous amount of capital with companies that we feel are socially responsible,” Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Long Island), head of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, told Hamodia.
Hikind said that nearly all Assembly members approached on the matter have responded positively. He hopes to draft and circulate the legislation by next week.