Rep. Zeldin brings anti-boycott act to Congress

Unlike laws in the 1970s, the bill does not include criminal penalties, but it preserves the earlier laws’ monetary punishment.

Protesters hold abanner that reads "Boycott Israel" during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Paris (photo credit: AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET)
Protesters hold abanner that reads "Boycott Israel" during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Paris
A House bill introduced Tuesday would extend penalties for boycotting Israel to compliance with boycotts organized by international organizations.
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, introduced by Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Jewish Republican from New York, would amend the anti-boycott Export Administration Act of 1979 “to prohibit boycotts or requests for boycotts imposed by international governmental organizations against Israel,” Zeldin said in a statement.
It ratchets up pressure on Democrats who in recent years have increasingly opposed expanding penalties targeting Israel boycotters, saying they impinge on speech freedoms. A separate bill in the Senate last year garnered the support of just over half the party’s caucus. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House speaker, has resisted considering the measure in the US House of Representatives.
The bill specifically names the United Nations and affiliated bodies, and the European Union, entities that in recent years have recommended boycotts of goods made in Israeli settlements.
It had 59 cosponsors, 58 of them Republicans. The sole Democratic cosponsor is Tom Suozzi of New York.
Zeldin, whom Republicans have designated as their lead Israel spokesman, said the measure targeted the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel.
“This legislation would not only reinforce Congress’s opposition to the BDS movement, but protects American companies from being forced to provide information to international organizations that peddle this hate-filled movement, and holds those who attempt to violate that protection accountable,” he said.
Unlike the 1970s laws, the bill does not include criminal penalties but preserves the earlier law’s monetary punishment.
The bill introduced by Zeldin states that “the government of the United States should use its voice, vote and influence with, and in, international governmental organizations to actively oppose politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel.”
“We have witnessed the rise of antisemitism and anti-Israel hate throughout the world, in our nation, on college campuses and within the halls of Congress under the guise of the BDS movement, and whether this bigotry is brazen or it’s blatant antisemitism deceptively called ‘legitimate,’ we must crush it wherever it exists,” Zeldin said.