BDS Takes Hit in Iowa; Challenged at NYU

YERUSHALAYIM -

Iowa became the latest state to take a stand against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, as the state senate passed anti-BDS legislation by an overwhelming majority.

The Iowa legislators voted 38-9 on Wednesday to prevent state funds from being invested in companies that boycott Israel.

The bill, already passed in the Iowa House chamber, applies to funds invested by the state treasurer, Iowa Board of Regents, Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System and some other state pension funds, and does not allow a public entity from entering a contract of more than $1,000 with a company that boycotts Israel, The Jerusalem Post said, citing the Des Moines Register.

Gov. Terry Branstad’s signature is still needed for the bill to be enacted into law.

Iowa thus became the eighth state to pass a resolution opposing BDS, following the lead of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana and South Carolina.

In 2012, Iowa exported more than $48 million in goods to Israel, the Des Moines Register reported, citing the Israel Project. Since 1996, Israel has imported some $482.6 million in Iowa goods.

In total, 21 states have taken up anti-BDS legislation.

In a voice vote, the Iowa Senate also approved a resolution “in support of the Jewish State of Israel,” as well as a negotiated two-state solution.

Meanwhile, the battle over BDS was also being fought at New York University, where members of the Graduate Student Union filed an appeal to reverse a recently passed resolution to join the BDS movement.

The student union voted by an almost two-thirds majority last week in favor of joining the BDS movement and called on NYU to close its program at Tel Aviv University.

The NYU administration issued a statement saying that it is “antithetical to the free exchange of ideas.”

The pro-BDS decision was condemned by the American Jewish Council and the Anti-Defamation League, as well as NYU Law Students for Israel.

The law students also pointed out that the financial ramifications of divestment for NYU could be “profound,” as it would “no longer be able to engage in any sort of business with companies ranging from Procter & Gamble to Intel to McDonald’s.”

NYU Law Students for Israel also noted that the pro-BDS vote reflects the opinion of only a small minority of the university’s graduate students. Of approximately 25,000 NYU graduate students, the union represents only about 1,200 students who are eligible to vote.