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LDB’s Kenneth L. Marcus to Testify in Support of Ohio’s Anti-BDS Legislation


Aviva Goldstein, Brandeis Blog

May 11, 2016
 

On Tuesday, May 10, LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus will testify in support of Ohio’s anti-BDS bill, H.B. No. 476, “to enact section 9.75 of the Revised Code to prohibit a state agency from contracting with a company that is boycotting Israel or disinvesting from Israel.”

The bill, introduced by Rep. Kirk Schuring, will be presented before the Ohio House of Representative’s Government Accountability & Oversight Committee, and comes as a very important response to the anti-Semitic Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, a hateful movement, which, as a matter of human rights for the Jewish people, must be treated as such.

The Brandeis Center has been at the forefront of combating the BDS Movement for a while now, and recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of four professors against the American Studies Association (ASA) for its unlawful boycott of Israel, in violation of Washington, D.C law governing nonprofit organizations.

In Marcus’s testimony, he will discuss how state anti-BDS bills are critical to addressing 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 has reported that in 2014, there was a 38% increase in anti-Semitic incidents of violence, direct threats, and major acts of vandalism against Jews worldwide. 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. The numbers appear to only be getting worse.

Marcus will discuss how BDS, at its core, has always been an anti-Semitic movement. The fact that BDS is dressed up in the language of human rights does not differentiate it from its Nazi and Arab League predecessors, which also used the rhetoric of their times to draw support for anti-Jewish boycotts.

If Ohio passes this bill, it will join 8 other states – Illinois, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Colorado, and Arizona – that have already passed anti-BDS legislation. Ten others are gearing up to take similar action.

The Ohio bill takes a firm, moderate position compared to these other anti-BDS bills. Specifically, the bill 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. However, it would not also prohibit public fund investment in companies boycotting Israel, like the anti-BDS bills in Florida and Alabama.

Marcus will testify in favor of Rep. Schuring’s bill, a very reasonable approach to combatting BDS, and along with it, the worldwide resurgence of anti-Semitism.

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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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L. Rachel Lerman, Esq.
L. Rachel Lerman is a partner in Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Los Angeles office, a member of the firm’s Litigation Department and co-chair of the Appellate Practice Group.
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