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March 7, 2023 5:11 pm

Current and Former New Hampshire Legislators Issue Call to Support Anti-BDS Bill


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

A pro-BDS demonstration. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Two New Hampshire political leaders on Monday called for pubic support of an anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) bill that will be the subject of public hearings on March 8.

House Bill 339 — introduced in January and sponsored by Rep. James Spillane (R), Rep. Kenneth Weyler (R), Rep. Jordan Ulery (R), and Rep. Jess Edwards — calls for banning investments in and contracts with companies participating in the BDS movement, which opposes Zionism and rejects Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish nation-state. It is still being examined by the New Hampshire House Executive Departments and Administration Committee.

“We are not blazing new ground here,” Rep. James Spillane (R) and former representative Paul Berch (D) wrote in an op-ed published in Portsmouth Herald, a local daily. “Business owners remain free to say whatever they want about Israel. They also remain free to boycott if they want, but in that case the state will exercise its own right to decline to spend taxpayer money in business with them.”

Spillane and Berch emphasized the importance of New Hampshire’s trade with Israel, which, they said, has totaled over $1 billion since 1996 and $110 million in exports alone in 2021.

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“Trade with Israel encompasses many of the state’s most vital economic sectors, including agriculture, water sciences, biotech, medicine, and aerospace,” they continued. “Companies and universities in our state engage in joint research, academic exchanges and trade with Israel that contributes materially to the everyday quality of life in our state. Protecting this trade and cooperation is a compelling interest.”

35 states have anti-BDS laws on their books, and the US Supreme Court recently refused to hear a case challenging a court decision that upheld one passed in Arkansas. Tennessee became the most recent state to adopt an anti-BDS law in April 2022, decreeing that all state contracts must include “a written certification that the company is not currently engaged in, and will not for the duration of the contract engage in a boycott of Israel.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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