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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

February 26, 2016  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Anti-BDS bill heads to governor

A Jewish Press report

A bill taking aim at the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) against Israel, has been approved by the Florida Legislature and was sent to Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

The bill was overwhelming supported in both houses of the legislature, with the House voting 112-2 and the Senate approving the measure unanimously, according to the News Service of Florida.

The law – provided the governor signs the bill, – “defends the state against the bigotry and discrimination of the BDS Movement, and the economic harm it causes,” said Bernie Friedman, a lobbyist for the Florida Association of Jewish Federations. “This legislation isn’t about the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

The law would put limits on companies that boycott Israel by prohibiting the use of state pension funds from being invested in those companies and by restricting state contracts with those companies.

It also would require the state to compile a list of companies that boycott Israel and prevent the board administering the pension fund from investing in companies on the list or from allowing the state or local governments to enter in to contracts worth $1 million or more that those companies.

“Dozens of House members spoke passionately and from the heart about their personal experiences and the importance of Israel as a free, open, democratic and moral nation and ally in the turbulent Middle East. Members carefully explained that this bill does not have anything to do with free speech or expression,” said Friedman.

“Boycotts of entities and individuals on the basis of national origin, Israel prominently, often amount to ethnic, religious, racial and/or nationality discrimination, which directly contradicts Florida’s public policy and the values of its citizens,” he said.

“Exercising discretion with taxpayer funds is an important part of reinforcing public policy and the basic ethical standards of government. Given the massive amount of documentation that is publicly available, no one should be hesitant to call out the anti-Semitism of the BDS Movement,” Friedman said.

“To be clear, legitimate criticism of Israel does exist and is certainly necessary; however, the often dishonest and downright prejudiced arena of the BDS Movement is not where such conversation can legitimately take place.”


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