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Indybay Feature
Sun Feb 21 2016 (Updated 05/03/16)
Anti-BDS Bills Introduced in California Legislature
Sun Feb 21 2016 (Updated 05/03/16)
Nationwide, New Laws Seek to Suppress Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Campaigns
Fearful of a shift in domestic public opinion, Israel’s defenders in the United States—a network of advocacy organizations, public relations firms, and think tanks—have intensified their efforts to stifle criticism of Israeli government policies. Rather than engage such criticism on its merits, these groups leverage their significant resources and lobbying power to pressure universities, government actors, and other institutions to censor or punish advocacy in support of Palestinian rights. In addition, high-level Israeli government figures, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and wealthy benefactors such as Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban have reportedly participated in strategic meetings to oppose Palestine activism, particularly Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns.

At least twenty-two bills aimed at suppressing the BDS movement were introduced last year in states across the country. These bills are part of a broader effort to shut down the movement for Palestinian rights, and BDS efforts in particular. In New York state, two proposed bills would blacklist individuals, businesses, and organizations that boycott (or encourage others to boycott) Israel. The version that passed the NY State Senate also affects those who boycott several other "allied" nations. New York State would be prohibited from contracting with or investing in individuals and entities on the blacklist should the bill pass the Assembly and be signed into law by Governor Cuomo. Other similar bills have become law or are being considered in at least Illinois, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Indiana, as well as within the U.S. Congress.

In California, two anti-BDS bills were introduced by Assembly member Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, on January 4. AB 1551, the “California Israel Commerce Protection Act”, would prohibit the state from investing in businesses and institutions that comply with boycotts called for by a foreign country or international organization against Israel or Israeli-controlled territories. AB 1552, introduced by Assemblyman Allen in tandem with AB 1551, would prohibit the state from contracting with entities that engage in what he calls “boycotts due to discrimination and bigotry.”

Read More: pdfCalifornia Legislators Urged to Oppose Anti-Boycott Bills | pdfNew York State wants to blacklist BDS supporters | photoAnti-BDS provision signed by Obama won’t stop this movement | pdfThe Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the US
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