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LDB Testifies Before Ohio Assembly in Support of anti-BDS Legislation


Jennie Gross, Brandeis Blog

December 7, 2016
 

On Tuesday, December 6, I testified in front of the Ohio Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee in support of Ohio’s anti-BDS bill, H.B. No. 476, “to prohibit a state agency from contracting with a company that is boycotting Israel or disinvesting from Israel.”

The bill is a very important response to the anti-Semitic Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.  First introduced by Ohio Assembly Representative Kirk Schuring, H.B. No. 476 passed the Ohio Assembly on November 29, 2016, by an overwhelming margin of 89 to 13.  LDB President and General Counsel Kenneth L. Marcus testified in front of the Ohio Assembly in support of the bill last summer.

I am grateful for the opportunity to explain the urgent need to pass anti-BDS legislation in response to resurgent anti-Semitism in the U.S. and throughout the world. Anti-Semitism is on the rise: the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry reports a 38% increase in anti-Semitic incidents of violence, direct threats, and major acts of vandalism worldwide in 2014.  In the U.S., the Brandeis Center and Trinity College co-published research showing that 54% of Jewish students on 55 campuses reported experiencing or witnessing anti-Semitism during one half of the 2013-2014 academic year alone. These numbers appear to only be getting worse.

My testimony seeks to explain how BDS, at its core, is an anti-Semitic movement modeled in the tradition of the Nazi and Arab League boycotts of the 1900’s.  Although BDS purports to be a human rights movement, it does not act like one.  Like its Nazi and Arab League predecessors, which also used the rhetoric of their times to draw support for anti-Jewish boycotts, the BDS movement seeks to demonize Jewish people, and delegitimize the state of Israel.

The proposed legislation would prohibit Ohio state agencies from contracting with companies that boycott or disinvest from Israel, and will have a binding impact on Ohio government contractors. Unlike other state legislation, however, the Ohio bill would not also prohibit public funds from investing in companies that boycott Israel.

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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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Jeffrey S. Robbins
Jeff specializes in complex civil litigation, including litigation involving allegations of fraud, First Amendment issues, and claims of defamation.
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