BDS must be prohibited - opinion

Some 35 states have adopted legislation or executive orders to prohibit the BDS movement from taking hold of their societies and economies.

 A FREEZER with the Ben & Jerry’s logo at a store in Efrat. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN)
A FREEZER with the Ben & Jerry’s logo at a store in Efrat.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN)

One of the hallmarks of American bipartisanship has been support for Israel – our long-standing Middle Eastern ally – and our unified voice in condemning those who would threaten her.

Unfortunately, this noble bipartisanship is now fading with the entrance of elected officials and leaders of woke organizations around the country who oppose Israel’s abilities to defend her nation from violent attacks. While these officials and business leaders certainly have the freedom to say what they feel, their views and actions are antithetical to the mainstream and not representative of Americans’ beliefs.

Furthermore, what is not protected by the First Amendment is the conduct of the “Boycott-Divest-Sanction” (BDS) movement, where state contractors discriminate on the basis of national origin. The BDS movement has been recently used to boycott companies with dealings in Israel and has now entered the dangerous territory of country of origin discrimination. That is why 35 states have adopted legislation or executive orders to prohibit the BDS movement from taking hold of their societies and economies. Federal law also prohibits certain forms of boycotts against Israel and extends to everyone – not merely government contractors.

Even with this generally accepted practice of our foreign policy to stand with and support our strategic allies, there are still those – both in and out of government – who promote the BDS movement, encouraging extremists bent on causing Israel’s destruction, and calling for the cessation of aid during times of great distress.

The BDS movement is squarely aimed at crippling Israel’s economy. The actions of such people and organizations are misguided and unfathomable. For many decades, Israel has been surrounded by countries plotting destruction and harm to her citizens. Israelis have lived much of their lives in constant fear of terrorists. Just recently, it has been subjected to repeated attacks from Hamas and possibly other adversarial groups.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, also known as BDS. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, also known as BDS. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

While many Americans cannot begin to understand the dangers that Israelis live through on a daily basis, most understand our country’s right to defend itself against attacks from radicals or foreign nations. Refusal to defend America would be an abdication of the role of government, which is to protect its citizens and preserve their God-given rights. It would be national suicide. We wouldn’t expect any country to accept that fate.

That’s why I have consistently defended Arizona’s law that prohibits all state contractors, who receive taxpayer funds, from discriminating on the basis of national origin. I have also led this fight across our country with a coalition of 16 states now defending an Arkansas law that prevents state subsidization of boycotts of Israel. I also led a multi-state coalition supporting Texas’s defense of its anti-Israel-boycott statute. There is no place in the United States of America for discriminatory conduct that the BDS movement engages in. These misguided ideas should be rejected at all levels of government. As long as I am attorney general, I will always fight to uphold laws that prohibit discrimination against Israel, or anyone, simply based on country of origin.

Earlier this year, Ben & Jerry’s became one of the more high-profile organizations to join the BDS movement, though they took great pains to deny that this was an official boycott of Israel. “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” they wrote. Ben & Jerry’s was rightly called out by many leaders and states for its misguided action. Our office is currently looking into this case, and how it may run afoul with Arizona law on the matter.

Most public servants, including myself, pray for peace in the Middle East. The violence that threatens to decimate this historic region is heartbreaking. As Americans, we can be grateful to live in an area of the world that is largely free from similar attacks and fears. What we cannot do, however, is ignore the intentions of those waging war on Israel, whether they be in the Middle East or here in America. Israel’s survival against the terrorist and anti-democratic forces that have continuously assailed it since the moment of its creation will always be a beacon of hope to the world.

The writer is the Arizona attorney-general.