South Carolina becomes first US state to take action against anti-Israel boycotts

State law bars public entities from contracting with companies that boycott "based on race, color, religion, gender or national origin."

By
June 5, 2015 01:19
1 minute read.
South Carolina Govenor Nikki Haley

South Carolina Govenor Nikki Haley. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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WASHINGTON – South Carolina’s governor has signed into law a bill to stop efforts to boycott, divest and sanction Israel on Thursday afternoon, in a first for the nation on a statewide level.

The bill makes no mention of Israel directly, but prevents public entities from contracting with businesses engaging in the “boycott of a person or an entity based in or doing business with a jurisdiction with whom South Carolina can enjoy open trade.”

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The premise of the law is that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, colloquially known as BDS, discriminates against the people of Israel and weakens the economy of South Carolina.

“Boycott,” for the purposes of the law, is defined as the effort by companies to “blacklist, divest from or otherwise refuse to deal with a person or firm when the action is based on race, color, religion, gender or national origin of the targeted person or entity,” according to the text.

Companies also must agree not to engage in boycott activities going forward.

While South Carolina is the first state to adopt such a measure as law, several others are close behind: Illinois lawmakers passed similar legislation last month, also with unanimous support from state representatives.

Beyond Springfield and Columbia, “a bloc of sponsors across 18 states has already committed to introducing similar legislation in their next legislative cycle,” according to Willem Griffioen, executive director of the Israel Allies Foundation (IAF), an organization aggressively engaged in the anti-BDS effort on the state level.

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South Carolina Representative Alan Clemmons, who pioneered the legislation, commended Governor Nikki Haley for swiftly signing the bill.

“Discriminatory boycotts have historically been used as a form of economic warfare to forward the purposes of hatred and bigotry. The tactics employed by the Nazis serve as a poignant example,” Clemmons said in a prepared statement. “In this day and age, no group better demonstrates this fact than the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in its effort to harm our great ally, Israel.”

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