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New Jersey and California Join the Fight Against BDS


Daniella Hovsha, Brandeis Blog

August 29, 2016
 

With Governor Chris Christie’s signature last week, New Jersey became at least the 12th state to embrace anti-BDS legislation. The bill passed with an overwhelming majority in the state’s General Assembly at the end of July (69-3, with two abstentions) and had unanimously passed the state Senate in May. Days later California added its own allegiance to the fight against BDS.

New Jersey’s bipartisan bill bars the state public pension fund from investing with companies that boycott Israel or Israeli businesses. This does not extend to giving humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people through certain organizations unless the organizations also are engaging in prohibited boycotts.

As Governor Christie declared in a statement last Tuesday, “[s]tanding with Israel, for peace and democracy, requires more than just pledging military defense and support…It is in all of our best interests to invest in and partner with Israel, while opposing any attempt to wipe out Israel, economically or otherwise.”

House and Senate democrats joined Governor Christie in expressing their support for this bipartisan Bill. “This legislation is designed to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeted against Israel” declared Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) “With the power of our pension funds, we are sending a statement that we will not stand for any global attempts to legitimize our partner in democracy and freedom”.  Assembly democrat Mukherji echoed these sentiments stating “New Jersey Stands by her friends”, as did Senator Beach (D-Burlington, Camden) who adamantly declared that “We cannot support such biased practices as those of the BDS against our sister state, ally and friend”

Governor Christie made clear that the “unequivocal, unashamed, unapologetic support of Israel is the policy of the state of New Jersey and should be the policy of the United States of America and hopefully will be in the years going forward.”

This California legislature endorsed this message only days later.

Following adamant lobbying efforts by the Israeli American Council (IAC), this past Monday, California passed legislation barring all state bodies, including universities, from maintaining ties with organizations that support anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions activities[8]. This is a commendable step for a state in which BDS and anti-Semitic activities have plagued college campuses.

As Shawn Evenheim of the IAC summised, this bill “makes it clear that [California] taxpayers don’t have to fund boycott activities…We’re proud of the fact we were able to spur the Israeli-American community to push for this bill, as it will now, and in the future, protect California’s diverse population from discrimination.”

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Lesley Klaff
Lesley Klaff is a senior lecturer in law at Sheffield Hallam University and an affiliate professor of law at Haifa University. She is expert in law and anti-Semitism, social and legal theory, and the English legal system.
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