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Alabama and Georgia pass new Anti-BDS Measures


Alex Goldberg, Brandeis Blog

March 17, 2016
 

More and more state legislatures are passing measures to combat the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The BDS movement seeks to delegitimize the State of Israel, and BDS campaigns on campus often lead to increased incidents of anti-Semitism.

In mid-February, Alabama passed a bill condemning the BDS movement,Alabama_House_of_Representatives becoming the fifth state in the country to do so. Tennessee, in 2015, was the first state to confront this troubling anti-Israel and arguably anti-Semitic movement’s growth, followed by South Carolina, Illinois, and Indiana. After seeing what their colleagues in other states had accomplished, Alabama State Senator Arthur Orr and Alabama House Speaker Pro Tem Victor Gaston passed a resolution, signed into law by Governor Robert Bentley, reaffirming Alabama’s support of Israel and recognizing that the Jewish People are “indigenous to the land of Israel.”

Laurie Cardoza-Moore, the President of Proclaiming Justice to The Nations who led the push for the bill in Alabama, and organizations like the Birmingham Jewish Federation, The Alabama-Israel Task Force, and Church4Israel also played a significant role in spearheading the effort. They are hoping that Alabama and the states working in conjunction with Alabama can continue to pressure their elected officials to condemn the hate speech and anti-Israel beliefs that BDS stands for. Ms. Cardoza-Moore stated, “The recent passage of the Alabama resolution can serve as a positive example and concrete model of a firm step that other state legislators can take as we begin to expose the malicious intent of the BDS campaign and confront it head on!”

Other state legislators continue to follow suit. Earlier this month, Georgia’s State Senate passed an anti-BDS bill which states that “ a company or individual seeking a procurement contract worth at least $1,000 with any state agency would have to certify playing no party in a boycott of Israel.” When making his claim for passage on the floor of the Senate, Senator Judson Hill cited companies like HP and Motorola as examples of companies that use Israeli technology, and stated that boycotting any products or companies that were developed in Israel goes hand in hand with discriminating against the people of Israel and the Jewish people as a whole. The bill is up for a vote in the House in the coming days.

The State of Florida’s House and Senate have recently passed an anti-BDS bill, which is waiting to be signed into law by Governor Rick Scott, and states including Ohio and Georgia have also recently introduced anti-BDS bills. With the rapid rise in anti-Semitic attacks on college campuses and elsewhere in the United States, we expect more states to pass anti-BDS legislation this year.

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Over 50% of Jewish American college students report that they experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses during the 2013-2014 academic year. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has announced that campus anti-Semitism “is a serious problem which warrants further attention.” Campus anti-Semitism can include subjecting Jewish students to different treatment, harassment, violence or a hostile environment. In some cases, campus anti-Semitism is related to anti-Israel sentiment. In other cases, it is not. For most purposes, we define anti-Semitism according to the U.S. Department of State definition of anti-Semitism. .
 
 
 
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Kenneth L. Marcus
Kenneth L. Marcus is President and General Counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and author of The Definition of Anti-Semitism (Oxford University Press: 2015) and Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America (Cambridge University Press: 2010).
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