On June 6th, the Ohio House of Representatives initiated a resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) in response to rising incidents of anti-Semitism in the state. The House expects a vote on the measure in late August or early September of this year.
The House Concurrent Resolution 10 calls for increased economic, cultural, and educational ties between Ohio and Israel. Importantly, the resolution also declares that the goals of the BDS movement are anti-Semitic, “the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is one of the main vehicles for legitimizing anti-Semitism on campus and advocating the elimination of the Jewish state”
The resolution follows the passage of the anti-BDS House Bill 476 that was signed into law in December 2016. Howie Beigelman, Executive Director of Ohio Jewish Communities, stated that while the resolution has no legal standing, it provides an important “message of support” to those affected by the BDS movement.
Support for the bill transcends both political and religious divisions, including the evangelical Christian group, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN), among its advocates. PJTN focuses on the “biblical responsibility” of Christians to stand with Jews and Israel.
The primary sponsors of the resolution, Republican representatives Dave Greenspan and Andy Thompson, added that the anti-BDS resolution builds upon the success of the anti-BDS law by taking a stronger stand on anti-Semitism in the face of the rising threat to Jewish students on college and university campuses. Unlike HB 476, the resolution addresses the complicity of university administrators in incidents of anti-Semitism, particularly those related to BDS agitation. As Representative Thompson noted, “…when it comes to college administration, sometimes they seem to be as intimidated as the groups that are being targeted here, so….we are just trying to provide some more backbone to those who would do the right thing when it comes to the climate.”
The resolution comes at a pivotal moment for Jewish university students in light of recent anti-Semitic incidents, including Jewish students being harassed and intimidated on campuses, such as at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Jewish student groups being disinvited from campus-wide events at San Francisco State University.