U.S. Campaign to Boycott Israel Boycotters

YERUSHALAYIM -
Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL). (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL). (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Support for Israel in its fight to stem the international boycott campaign is mounting in the United States, where legislators in Washington and many states are making headway in building a counter-boycott.

In the coming weeks, legislators in Washington will be asked to vote on a bi-partisan proposal to incorporate a boycott ban in trade negotiations with the European Union. An amendment to the Trade Protection Authority bill will say that boycotts or other sanctions against Israel should be excluded in any trade agreement with the U.S., Globes reported.

Representative Peter Roskam, a co-sponsor of the anti-BDS legislation, denounced the behavior of French telecom company Orange vis-à-vis Israel:

“This outrageous move by Orange unfortunately represents a broader, insidious campaign within Europe and beyond to delegitimize and economically isolate Israel. The Orange CEO’s claim that these actions are not ‘political’ is shamelessly flimsy. Cutting off economic ties with an Israeli company in political protest will only advance the cause of hatred and intolerance. It certainly won’t help achieve peace in the region, and it moves the global economy in a dangerous and unproductive direction. I urge the French Government to denounce this economic attack with haste.”

The state legislatures of South Carolina and Illinois have taken the lead in the anti-boycott move. Last Thursday, South Carolina became the first state in the Union to adopt such a law. Although it does not name Israel, it forbids public bodies in the state from doing business with anyone supporting a boycott of a country with which South Carolina has commercial relations. That would include Israel.

Both houses in Illinois have already passed a similar law — unanimously — that the state governor is expected to sign.

Eighteen more states will be voting on anti-boycott bills this year.

Meanwhile, in the private sector, support for Israel is also forthcoming.

Billionaire businessmen Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban held a conference in Las Vegas to organize resistance to the BDS movement. Adelson is a high-profile backer of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Saban is the owner of Partner, the Israeli company that leases from Orange.

“De-legitimization of Israel must be fought, and you are on the front lines,” Netanyahu told participants in a letter read aloud at the Las Vegas summit.

“It’s not about this or that Israeli policy. It’s about our right to exist here as a free people,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu consulted with several officials over the weekend about how to defeat the boycott, which appears to have gained traction in recent months.

A budget of 100 million shekels was committed to the cause, to be allocated to Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan, whose office has responsibility for it. Ten new positions will be assigned to Erdan’s office for employees who will deal solely with the boycott and de-legitimization activities against Israel.

Erdan noted that he is flooded with calls from Jewish leaders around the world who are offering to help fight BDS.