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May 19, 2023 3:59 pm

US Senators Reintroduce Bill to Combat BDS Movement


avatar by Andrew Bernard

A Palestinian boy looks on near graffiti boycotting Israel in Bethlehem, November 3, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Stephen Farrell/File Photo.

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) on Thursday reintroduced legislation designed to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Titled the “Combating BDS Act of 2023,” the bill would give federal permission for states to enact laws to divest from or restrict contracting with entities or individuals that are engaged in a boycott of Israel. While many states already have such laws, they have faced legal challenges led by the ACLU and others. Several such cases are currently pending appeal in federal circuit court, though the Supreme Court in February declined to hear a case challenging Arkansas’ anti-BDS law in a move hailed as a major win for opponents of BDS.

In a statement Senator Rubio said the bill, a previous version of which passed the Senate 77 to 23 in 2020, would be a step toward ending the BDS movement.

“The BDS movement is the single most destructive campaign of economic warfare against the Jewish state of Israel,” Rubio said. “Amid a rising tide of anti-Semitism, we must stand in firm solidarity with our closest democratic ally in the Middle East.”

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As then-Governor of Florida, Senator Scott in 2016 signed Florida’s anti-BDS legislation prohibiting the State Board of Administration from investing in companies boycotting Israel.

“I was proud to lead an effort as Governor to show the world that Florida will not do business with those that boycott Israel,” Scott said Thursday. “This good bill will continue that work by ensuring state and local governments have full authority to cancel or deny funding to organizations that support the BDS movement. I will always stand with our Jewish community and fight the BDS movement and anti-Semitism wherever it is found.”

The bill was further co-sponsored by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mike Braun (R-IN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Steve Daines (R-MT).

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