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Arizona joins Florida in passing groundbreaking pro-Israel legislation

On March 18th, he Arizona state legislature passed anti-BDS legislation, HB 2617, developed by the Israel Allies Foundation. Arizona makes it four states that have adopted this groundbreaking anti-BDS directed at barring state agencies from  investing  in companies that boycott Israel. That is not lost on listeners to the Lisa Benson Show on KKNT 960 The Patriot in Phoenix. We heard about the launch of that effort from South Carolina State Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-Myrtle Beach) on a December 6, 2015 broadcast when he was in town to meet with members of the Arizona state legislature.  South Carolina led the way with the enactment of the Palmetto State’s version in June 2015. We have also had as frequent a guest on the eponymous weekly national security show, the head of the bi-partisan Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, Arizona U.S. Representative Trent Franks.

We posted on Florida Governor Rock Scott signing the anti-BDS statute into law on March 10th that in January and February, 2016 passed both the Senate and House in Tallahassee resoundingly. This past Tuesday, this writer and Northwest Florida ‘Your Turn” talk show host  Mike Bates on 1330 am WEBY Pensacola  interviewed Florida State Representative Mike Hill (R-District  2) on his co-sponsorship of this landmark anti-BDS legislation and sponsorship of ‘Andy’s law ‘ this session in Tallahassee. Listen to the interview.

The Israel Allies Foundation press release on the latest Arizona anti-BDS victory cited someone we regard as a valued friend of Israel and pushback against intrusive foreign laws, Joseph Sabag, Esq. Sabag is deputy director of the IAF. We worked closely with Sabag, Esq, Esq in the period 2012 to 2014 in the citizen lobbying effort,  with partner  Tony Verdugo and his team from the Florida Christian Family Coalition, to pass bi-partisan legislative resolutions in support of Israel and the Florida version of American Laws  for American Courts (ALAC) in 2014.

Sabag of IAF extolled this latest victory in the national fight against BDS:

We applaud the State of Arizona for HB-2617 the law. Arizona’s new anti-discrimination/boycott law is good as a matter of economic policy, public policy and foreign policy. We salute Speaker David Gowan and Arizona’s legislature for their leadership and public service. The low financial thresholds in this statute make it the most effective and far-reaching law yet passed in confronting the BDS problem,” said Joseph M. Sabag, Deputy Director of the Israel Allies Foundation.

Lead sponsor of the bill, Arizona House Speaker David Gowan, praised the Israel Allies Foundation for their role:

Arizona stands with Israel. Period. HB 2617 makes clear that our state will not invest in or contract with parties that harm our state’s economic interests and undermine our protections from discrimination. The hatred of the BDS Movement will receive nothing other than condemnation from the State of Arizona and its citizens I wish to especially thank the professionals at the Israel Allies Foundation, without whose policy support and educational resourcing our state could not have succeeded in defending such vital interests. I also wish to commend the terrific public support delivered from the pro-Israel community, and particularly the advocates at Stand With Us.

Stalwarts among Arizona’s Congressional Delegation supporting Israel offered their praise of the anti-BDS legislation:

Congressman Trent Franks, Congressional Israel Allies Caucus Chairman:

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movements (BDS) is a burgeoning campaign, shamefully aimed at disrupting the economic and financial stability of the State of Israel, including by causing direct harm to the economic interests of persons or American companies trading with Israel or conducting business in and with the State of Israel. As part of our efforts to combat this unusual and extraordinary threat, I stand in strong support with the State of Arizona’s Legislature in passing HB 2617, which promotes and strengthens Arizonians’ economic interests, while ensuring the state government does not financially support commercial efforts to boycott, divest or sanction the State of Israel.

Congresswoman Martha McNally (R-AZ 2nd), co-introducer of legislation, “The Fair Treatment of Israel in Product Labeling Act” on February 12, 2016 to protect against political boycotts of Israel:

I’m proud to see Arizona leading in the fight against Israeli discrimination. It’s never been more important that we stand with our ally against politically charged boycotts, which is why I’ve introduced legislation in Congress to prevent the discrimination of Israeli-produced goods. I’ll continue to stand with Israel and commend Arizona for doing the same.

Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ 5th), Congressional Israel Allies Caucus member:

The Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement is just a new face on old anti-Semitism.  As ultra-liberal extremists have repeatedly tried to bully non-profits, schools, and municipal governments into supporting this cause, this legislation could not be more welcome.  I’m proud to hear it passed here in Arizona, and I’m looking forward to the governor taking quick action.

Let’s see how many other states adopt this groundbreaking anti-BDS legislation regarding scrutinized companies preventing state pension funds from investing in companies that boycott Israel.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Florida Governor Signs Groundbreaking pro-Israel Legislation into Law

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.

RELATED ARTICLE: More Than One Million Jobs and $1 Billion in Tax Cuts in Florida

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Anti-BDS Bill Unanimously Passes Florida Senate

The Florida  State Senate in Tallahassee yesterday unanimously passed on Third Reading an anti-BDS bill SB 38 on “scrutinized companies” directed at companies boycotting Israeli companies.  See the Florida Senate Legislation Tracker for the tally of those State Senators who cast the unanimous vote. 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. A companion bill, in the Florida House HR 527 passed its first stop, the House Government Operations Subcommittee on Wednesday, January 20, 2015.  The Florida anti-BDS legislation has the support of the Florida Christian Families Coalition.

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.

The AP had this report on the progress of the Florida anti-BDS legislation, “Boycott of companies that boycott Israel sought in Florida:”

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida wouldn’t be able to invest in companies that boycott Israel under a bill unanimously passed by the state Senate.

The Senate passed a bill Thursday that would force the State Board of Administration to identify companies that boycott Israel and then notify them they are on a “scrutinized companies” list. The board is responsible for managing the state’s retirement fund.

If the companies continue to boycott Israel, the board would not be allowed to invest in those companies.

It would also place limits on state agencies from contracting with companies on the list.

A similar House bill has two more committee stops before it’s ready for a floor vote.

RELATED ARTICLE: Israel and Florida: A Strong and Growing Economic Partnership

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.