Idaho and West Virginia have joined the growing list of states that over the past several years have passed anti-Israel boycott legislation aimed at outlawing businesses that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
The bills passed this week bring the number of states with similar laws to 33.
Idaho’s Anti-Boycott Against Israel Act states that public entities cannot do business over a total of $100,000 with companies that do not expressly oppose the BDS movement. West Virginia’s bill stipulates the same.
“The State of West Virginia has an economic and a humanitarian obligation to denounce and reject the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement against Israel, and to prevent the state or any of its instrumentalities from contracting with companies that engage in the movement,” the measure reads.
Since 2015, anti-BDS laws have gained momentum, but also hit bumps along the way in the form of high-profile critics who argue the legislation hampers free speech. In 2019, the U.S. Senate, then controlled by the Republican Party, passed a bill by a vote of 77-23 that gave states legal cover to continue to introduce anti-BDS legislation.
Some states and specific institutions have found themselves embroiled in free speech lawsuits over the laws.
Israel approves $72 million anti-BDS project
The $75 million budget will come partly from the Israeli government and partly from Jewish donors and communities abroad.
Jerusalem Post, DECEMBER 30, 2017
Israel’s government has approved a plan setting aside $72 million to fighting the campaign to boycott Israel.
The plan would entail the largest monetary investment yet by Israel specifically toward combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. It was announced last week to the cabinet ministers and approved as an executive order after none of them objected, the Ynet news site reported Friday.
It calls for setting up a not-for-profit organization whose board will be made up of government officials and donors from abroad, the report said. The board will oversee the first major “civil-society infrastructure servicing the State of Israel and the pro-Israel community in the fight against the de-legitimization of Israel,” the notice sent to the ministers read.
The $72 million budget will come partly from the Israeli government and partly from Jewish donors and communities abroad, the report said. It did not say when the new organization would become operational or even established formally.
But the initial funding to the tune of $36 million will come from the budget of the ministry that includes Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information. At least 10 Jewish philanthropists have pledge to at least match that sum, with some promising to give $2 and $3 to any dollar put in by the Israeli government beyond the initial funding, according to the report.
The organization envisaged by its creators would operate on a regular basis to counter pressure applied to artists, performers and commercial enterprises who seek to engage with Israel. But it would shift into high gear at sensitive periods such as fighting waves of terrorist attacks and anti-Israel votes at international forums.
The new organization’s avenues for action would include public campaigns, lobbying, arranging for solidarity visits to Israel by opinion shapers, establishing new and social media presence and interacting with pro-Israel organization worldwide for coordinated action with a focus on Europe.
While such activities today formally fall under the purview of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spinning off the nonprofit would allow for quicker and more flexible action unconstrained by government bureaucracy and legal limitations on third party services. But the new organization will be subject to review by the state.
[The website is here.]