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2016-03-11 digital edition

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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.


March 11, 2016  RSS feed
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Florida rejects BDS movement with new law, resolutions

While some may debate what the Florida Legislature accomplished this year, there is no doubt it took bold stances against the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) Movement that will have lasting effects.

On Thursday, March 10, Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill prohibiting the state’s multi-million dollar pension fund from investing in companies that boycott Israel.

“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,” Gov. Scott said in his signing statement. “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.”

The action by Scott comes about two weeks after the Legislature approved the bill that not only limits state pension fund investments in companies that boycott Israel, but also prevents state and local governments from entering into any contract worth more than $1 million with those companies. The bill calls for a list of those companies to be created and maintained.

In addition to the bill that has now become law, in recent days both houses of the Florida Legislature approved resolutions proclaiming the state’s opposition to the BDS movement.

The senate resolution passed March 2, while the House version was OK’d last month. With those approvals, Florida became the sixth state to condemn the BDS movement. An organization known as Promoting Justice to the Nations has been pushing the resolutions as part of a national campaign.

In addition to its condemnation of efforts to boycott and divest from firms investing in Israel and to sanction Israel for what BDS supporters say are human rights violations by Israel against Palestinians, the state Senate resolution addressed recent federal action. The resolution called for President Barak Obama to cancel the U.S. Customs and Border Protection requirement against goods made in the West Bank from being labeled “Made in Israel.”

The resolutions do not have the force of law.

As the bill that Gov. Scott just signed and the House and Senate resolutions worked their way through committees last month, Bernie Friedman, a lobbyist for the Florida Association of Jewish Federations, explained the differences in the initiatives.

He said the bill and resolutions sprang from different supporters and that while the bill dealt with commerce, the resolutions express the state legislators’ support for Israel in a way that could be more easily adopted by lawmakers in other states.

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