On March 10, 2016, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed SB 86 into law prohibiting the State Board of Administration from investing in companies that boycott Israel. Florida became the third state to pass this ground breaking anti-BDS legislation during the current legislative cycle across the country. In a statement released to the media, Scott said:
I am proud to sign this important bill into law and join the Florida Legislature in sending this message: the State of Florida will not waver in our support of Israel, one of our greatest allies and friends. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement is fueled by anti-Semitism, and has no place in Florida or any part of the world that values freedom and democracy. The State of Florida stands firm with our ally Israel and will not support those that participate in this intolerant movement.
When the State Senate unanimously passed the anti-BDS legislation on January 21, 2016, we wrote:
The ‘scrutinized companies” Florida legislation would:
Require the State Board of Administration to identify all companies that are boycotting Israel or are engaged in a boycott of Israel in which the public fund owns direct or indirect holdings by a specified date; requiring the public fund to create and maintain the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List that names all such companies; prohibiting a state agency or local governmental entity from contracting for goods and services that exceed a specified amount if the company has been placed on the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List.
The legislation is modeled on one that passed in South Carolina, last session in Columbia, spearheaded by State Rep. Alan Clemmons. It has the support of the Israel Allies Foundation in Washington, which is seeking to see it adopted in other jurisdictions across the US.
Listeners to the weekly Lisa Benson Show that airs Sunday on KKNT 960 The Patriot out of Phoenix heard South Carolina Rep. Clemmons discuss the model legislation during an interview on December 6, 2015. LISTEN to the podcast here.
When the Florida House passed the companion measure on February24, 2016, Israel Allies Foundation executive director, E.J. Kimball noted:
We applaud the State of Florida for making Senate Bill 86 the law. Florida’s new anti-discrimination/boycott law is good as a matter of economic policy, public policy and foreign policy. This is a great accomplishment for the pro-Israel community, and a resounding defeat for the hatred and bigotry of the BDS Movement.”
We salute Senator Negron, Representative Workman, Representative Moskowitz and Representative Rader for their leadership and public service. It is important to note the BDS Movement’s use of dishonesty and anti-Semitic insinuations about Jewish money and control in opposing the passage of this legislation.
IAF is proud to have played a leading role in this victory. The passage of this law is the result of more than two years of legal research, policy development and educational resourcing by our experts.
Many different communities came together in order to ensure the success of this legislation. It is important to note the particularly important roles played by Stand With Us, Chabad of Tallahassee, the Jewish Community Relations Councils, and the hundreds of churches and Christian faith leaders around the State of Florida. These groups led the effort by delivering terrific community engagement in support of the campaign. The timing and importance of this victory cannot be overstated. It was truly an honor for IAF to contribute our expertise and educational resources to this effort.
Republican presidential hopeful Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio issued this statement when the Florida house passed the anti-BDS legislation:
I would like to commend the Florida Legislature for passing this law to ensure that Florida’s tax dollars do not contribute to the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic and bigoted Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. This movement significantly threatens peace in the Middle East and directly harms the economies of Florida and the United States.
It is more important than ever that we stand united with our close ally, Israel, and oppose the discriminatory labeling guidelines recently issued by the European Commission on both the state and federal levels. Recently, Senator Wyden and I introduced a Senate bill opposing the new European Union labeling guidelines and sent a message to the world that America will not be silent in the face of this form of anti-Semitism.
I encourage other states to take up this issue and help bring this kind of moral clarity to Washington, D.C.
We hope that other states will take up this anti-BDS legislation supported by Senator Rubio and others in Congress. Congratulations to the tireless staff of the Israel Allies Foundation involved in development and advocacy for this important legal bulwark supporting the economy of the only democratic ally of the US in the Middle East, Israel.
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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.