New Jersey passes anti-BDS legislation

New Jersey State Senate passes legislation prohibiting pension and annuity funds from being invested in companies that boycott Israel.

Ben Ariel ,

Boycott Israel sign
Boycott Israel sign
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

The New Jersey State Senate this week unanimously passed legislation that would prohibit state pension and annuity funds from being invested in companies that boycott Israel or Israeli businesses, the New Jersey Jewish News reported Wednesday, noting that the legislation was passed on Monday.

The major sponsors of the bill are Sen. James Beach (D-Dist. 6) and Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Dist. 37), according to the report.

“We have Israel’s back,” said Beach. Focusing on New Jersey’s “long-standing relationship with Israel and a common bond,” he added, “We must take a stand against any efforts to boycott Israeli goods, products, and businesses as a way to harm the state.”

The Senate passed similar legislation in August 2015, but after questions were raised regarding the constitutionality of the bill, particularly with regard to the First Amendment, the legislation was pulled from the Assembly.

The amended bill, now focusing on the NJ-Israel relationship, providing more guidelines on identifying companies participating in boycotting Israel, and clarifying the status of companies offering humanitarian aid to Palestinians, had to be reintroduced into the Senate, according to the New Jersey Jewish News.

“Israel has long been a vibrant trading partner, ally, and friend with our state, and making sure that we are not investing in any company that seeks to hurt the interests of Israel or its people through boycotts, divestments, and sanctions will send a clear message that we stand against this kind of discrimination,” said Weinberg.

Once the bill goes into effect, companies that violate the prohibition must be identified within 60 days, and investments must be divested from those companies within 18 months. The prohibition would not apply to the activities of any company providing humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people through either a governmental or nongovernmental organization unless it is also engaging in prohibited boycotts.

With the passing of the legislation, New Jersey joins several American states that have passed similar laws in recent months.

In March, Virginia passed two anti-BDS resolutions, officially condemning and outlawed the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Other states to have passed similar laws are Arizona, Indiana, Florida, Tennessee and New York.