Publications : Opinion Pieces  

Federal Legislation Strengthens Anti-BDS Movement

Rachel Leach, Brandeis Center

November 21,2016

Throughout 2016 we have seen several state legislatures successfully introduce and pass anti- Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) legislation. Reaching beyond state law, several United States congressmen, in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, have introduced federal anti-BDS legislation. Specifically, on November 14, 2016 U.S. Representatives Peter J. Roskam and Juan Vargas introduced the Protecting Israel Against Economic Discrimination Act.

The Protecting Israel Against Economic Discrimination Act seeks to amend the Export Administration Act of 1979 to include the prohibition of boycotts, “fostered by international governmental organizations against Israel[.]” The Export Administration Act prohibits U.S. companies from participating in boycotts against Israel called for by foreign states. Under the proposed legislation, this prohibition would also apply to boycotts called for by international governmental organizations (IGOs). The proposed legislation explains that Congress has found that IGOs, including the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), have “long targeted Israel with systematic, politically motivated, assaults on its legitimacy designed to stigmatize and isolate Israel internationally.”

On March 24, 2016, through an adopted resolution, the UNHRC demanded a commercial boycott and divestment of companies that conduct business with Israeli entities. The resolution also calls for the creation of a database (or blacklist) of such businesses.

Representatives Roskam and Vargus recognized that Congress has been combating anti-Israel boycotts with legislation since 1979. The Protecting Israel Against Economic Discrimination Act would formally acknowledge that, “Congress opposes the United Nations Human Right Council resolution of March 24, 2016, which urges countries to pressure their own companies to divest from, or break contracts with, Israel.”

In addition to opposing the UNHRC’s 2016 resolution, the Act requires, “the Export-Import Bank to consider BDS activity when evaluating potential applicants. U.S. taxpayer-backed financing should not be available to those who choose to conduct economic warfare against Israel.”

The Protecting Israel Against Economic Discrimination Act strengthens the anti-BDS movement by prohibiting IGO’s from creating and implementing boycotts against Israel.

Original Article

If you are concerned about anti-Semitism on your campus, or if you seek advice about best practices, contact us.

Our attorneys and experts are here to help!
Research Articles
and Reports
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. .
Sign Up for The Brandeis Brief
Advisory Board Spotlight

Alan Gura, Esq.
Alan Gura is a founder and partner in Gura & Possessky, PLLC. Previously, Mr. Gura served as Counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice Oversight; as Deputy Attorney General for the State of California; and as an attorney with Sidley & Austin.
read more