Iowa Legislature Passes Bill Barring State Investments in Companies that Boycott Israel

The Iowa state senate passed a bill on Wednesday that bars the state from investing in companies that boycott Israel, sending the bill to the governor’s desk.

The bill, which passed by a 38-9 margin, would prohibit the Iowa Board of Regents, the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System and some other state pension funds from agreeing to contracts worth more than $1,000 with businesses that boycott Israel. The state House passed the bill in February.

The senate also approved a resolution in a voice vote “in support of the Jewish State of Israel,” and called for a negotiated peace.

Iowa is the eighth state to pass legislation combating boycotts of Israel, following Illinois, South Carolina, Indiana, Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, and Florida.

A bipartisan congressional bill was introduced in Washington DC in February that is designed to support states that pass anti-BDS legislation. One activist who spoke to Tablet about the measure predicted that the number of states that passed anti-BDS legislation would reach double digits by the summer of 2016.

The Iowa bill is the latest blow to the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which seeks to stigmatize and isolate Israel socially, economically, and politically until it accedes to a number of unilateral Palestinian demands. Critics of the campaign have accused it of being discriminatory in tone and intention, and pointed out that many of its leaders have publicly affirmed that they seek Israel’s destruction. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, an opponent of the two-state solution, said in 2014 that Palestinians have a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance,” while leading activist As’ad Abu Khalil acknowledged in 2012 that “the real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel.”

Following passage of the Illinois bill last year, legal expert Eugene Kontorovich said that the bill reflected a belief that “that in the eyes of America, the BDS is not like the civil rights protests, as its supporters love to claim, but rather more like the anti-Jewish boycotts so common in Europe in the 20th century, and in the Arab world until this day.”

[Photo: Samir Luther / Flickr ]