Monday, January 18, 2021

Missouri Legislature Passes Anti-BDS Bill

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The Missouri state legislature passed a bill on May 14 barring the state government from providing contracts to companies boycotting Israel.

The bill, titled the Anti-Discrimination Against Israel Act, applies only to contracts wore more than $100,000 value and companies with more than 10 employees. The legislation passed the Senate on April 30 with 28 votes in favor and one against and passed the House on May 14 with 95 votes in favor and 40 against. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, is expected to sign the bill into law.

Jewish groups praised the law’s passage.

“The legislature has taken bold action to combat the insidious and hateful BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement that singles out Israel and encourages punitive actions against its economy and citizens,” American Jewish Committee St. Louis Regional Director Nancy Lisker said in a statement. “We look forward to Gov. Parson signing this important bill into law.”

She added: “Israelis and Palestinians want peace, they want investment not divestment, and they want for the whole region to prosper. Through this legislation both economies, Missouri’s and Israel’s, will continue to grow.”

StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein similarly said in a statement, “Since Israel’s establishment in 1948, the Jewish state has faced countless efforts aimed at isolating and undermining its very existence. Missouri has made it clear that it will not tolerate singling out and targeting the world’s only Jewish state.”

Rothstein added: “We applaud the Missouri legislature and its citizens for taking this important action, rejecting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign and acknowledging that a peaceful future cannot be anchored in a discriminatory movement.”

Christians United for Israel (CUFI) founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee similarly said in a statement, “CUFI’s more than 200,000 members across Missouri and more than eight million members across the country are grateful to the Missouri State Legislature for unequivocally saying ‘no’ to the anti-Semitic BDS movement. Taxpayer dollars should never be doled out to those who seek to destroy the Jewish state. We look forward to Governor Mike Parson swiftly signing this bipartisan, common sense legislation.”

Rabbi Daniel Bogard of the Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis, has a differing view. Bogard, who also is involved with J Street, said in Missouri Senate testimony in February that while he’s against the BDS movement, “I fear that by alienating and angering the liberal audiences that BDS seeks to engage and recruit, that this bill actually empowers the BDS movement. And I worry that any attempt to carve out a special status for Israel — the only nation-state of the Jewish people — only serves to ultimately reinforce the worst conspiracy theories of anti-Semites on the left and on the right.”

Missouri would be the 28th state to have an anti-BDS law in effect if Parson signs the bill into law as expected.

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