Pennsylvania senate

Pennsylvania will become the 14th state to pass anti-BDS laws designed to prevent the state from contracting companies that boycott Israel.

Pennsylvania’s Senate passed an anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) bill on Thursday, deeming it illegal for a company contracted by the state to be involved in a boycott on the Jewish State.

The bill, an Act amending Title 62 (Procurement) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, passed by a vote of 47 to 1, and now awaits the signature of Governor Tom Wolf to become law.

Pennsylvania will become the 14th state to pass anti-BDS legislation.

The bill — which also addresses questions regarding public access to procurement records and awarding a contract to a single source — contains anti-BDS language within the context of prohibited contracts.

The bill asserts that “Israel is America’s dependable, democratic ally in the Middle East, an area of paramount strategic importance to the United States” and that “it is in the interest of the United States and the Commonwealth to stand with Israel and other countries by promoting trade and commercial activities and to discourage policies that disregard that interest,” the Jewish Exponent reported.

A company contracted by Pennsylvania is not permitted to be involved in a boycott—defined in the bill as “to blacklist, divest from or otherwise refuse to deal with a person or firm when the action is based on race, color, religion, gender or national affiliation or origin of the targeted person or entity.”

The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition stated that the law “does not hinder free speech. Any company can say, write or publish any statement against Israel they wish. Companies cannot formally perform a boycott, divestment or sanction against Israel if they wish to do business with the commonwealth,” countering claims that the new law hinders free speech.

Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa South Carolina, New Jersey and Rhode Island have passed bills fighting boycotts on Israel.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed an executive order banning state agencies from investing in companies that support boycotts on Israel.

More than 20 states are considering, or have passed, legislation targeting companies that comply with the anti-Israel BDS movement, and many countries around the world have introduced and passed similar laws.

The BDS movement promotes financial, academic and cultural boycotts against Israel, ostensibly as a nonviolent struggle against the so-called “Israeli occupation.”

Critics say its activities are a modern form of anti-Semitism, and its true objective is to destroy the State of Israel.

By: United with Israel Staff