BDS (illustration)
BDS (illustration) Reuters

The most populous state in the U.S., California, is considering strong legislation against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement. BDS calls for boycotting and sanctioning Israel.

Twenty-one states and the largest township in America have already passed similar legislation against BDS.

The California Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote next week on the California Combating BDS Act of 2016, AB 2844. The bill would require any entity that proposes to enter into a contract with a state agency to certify, under penalty of perjury, that it has adopted no discriminatory policy against any sovereign nation or peoples recognized by the United States, including, but not limited to, Israel. The bill covers contracts in the amount of $100,000 or more.

Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order against BDS. The order bars the state from doing business with entities that back the BDS movement.

Other states that have taken similar moves include Georgia, Illinois, Arizona, Iowa, Florida, Indiana, Rhode Island, South Carolina and others.

Most recently, the Long Island town council of Hempstead, New York – the largest in the U.S. - unanimously passed an anti-BDS bill. The bill requires entities entering into supply, construction and services contracts with the Town of Hempstead to certify in writing that they are not engaged in boycotts of a nation allied with the United States, and that they will not engage in such boycotts during the term of the contract.  

Town Supervisor Tony Santino stated afterwards, “The Town of Hempstead stands wholly opposed to the BDS movement which openly discriminates against the United States, Israel and our other allies around the world. As the largest township in the United States, adopting this anti-BDS legislation sends a strong message that our communities will not tolerate bigotry and anti-Semitism.”

The Zionist Organization of America, which testified for the bill at the public hearing preceding the vote, praised Hempstead for its decision.

Despite the wide-spread support for the anti-BDS campaign, a full one-third of Americans believe boycotting Israel is justified and legitimate, according to an Ipsos survey. A 62% majority believes that BDS is actually a form of modern anti-Semitism. A parallel poll conducted in Britain found numbers of 40% (in favor of BDS) and 50% (against), respectively.

Earlier this month, the United Nations hosted more than 1,500 pro-Israel activists, mostly students, at an anti-BDS event. Most were students, with many also from communal Jewish organizations. Other achievements for the anti-BDS movement include the withdrawal of the United Methodists, several victories on campuses, and even several wins against BDS in Europe.