| ||Kansas Becomes Most Recent State to Pass Anti-BDS Legislation
| ||AP and United with Israel
Kansas is the most recent state to introduce a bill against boycotting Israel, marking the latest step in the fight against BDS on the US state level.
The Kansas House approved a bill that would prohibit the state from awarding contracts to companies participating in any Israel boycott.
The House passed the measure Wednesday on a 116-9 vote.
Similar policies in 17 states are intended to fight the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement.
Supporters of the law say it does not prohibit free speech because individuals and companies can still criticize Israel, or they can boycott it as long as they’re not vying for the state’s business. But the state shouldn’t “subsidize or reward discriminatory behavior,” said Jacob Millner, Midwest regional director and senior policy analyst for the Israel Project.
Republican state Rep. William Sutton, who has called the boycotts an “economic attack” on Israel, said the bill would protect Kansas’ trading relationship with the Jewish state.
Pro-Palestinian groups complain the law discriminates against businesses for their political speech.Palestine Legal staff attorney Rahul Saksena said the US has a long history of boycotts protected by the First Amendment and said the organization is considering challenging the laws.
So far, the Kansas Department of Commerce hasn’t found any of the state’s contractors or other businesses in Kansas are openly boycotting Israel, said David Soffer, the agency’s director of marketing and research. Under the bill, companies would have to provide written certification saying they’re not boycotting Israel before they get a state contract.
The bill still faces a vote in the Senate. Gov. Sam Brownback’s spokeswoman Melika Willoughby said the Republican “has long been a supporter of Israel, and he looks forward to reviewing the bill when it comes to his desk.”
Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, 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 worldwide 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 that its true objective is to destroy the State of Israel.