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Nevada Becomes 20th State to Ban Discriminatory Israel Boycotts

Nevada on Friday became the 20th state to adopt legislation prohibiting state entities from contracting with companies that boycott Israel.

A day after Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed Senate Bill 26 into law, the Kansas state senate passed similar legislation by a three to one margin.

Christians United for Israel, which boasts 3 million members, praised Sandoval for signing the bill “after a year of grassroots efforts,” The Jerusalem Post reported. “We are very pleased Nevada has taken a bold stand in defense of Israel,” CUFI wrote.

Dillon Hosier, national director of state government affairs at the Israeli-American Coalition for Action, added, “The BDS movement focuses on discriminating against businesses, organizations and institutions simply for exercising their right to freely associate with Israel, or for being of Jewish or Israeli heritage.”

“Nevada has strong economic ties with companies targeted by BDS in sectors like water sustainability, alternative energy and cybersecurity. Allowing BDS to infiltrate this state would greatly disenfranchise Nevadans and harm our long-term economic interests,” he continued.

Sandoval led a business delegation seeking to boost economic ties between Nevada and Israel in 2013.

Similar anti-BDS bills have become law in MichiganPennsylvaniaIllinoisSouth Carolina, ArizonaGeorgia, Colorado, Florida, Alabama, CaliforniaNew JerseyOhio, Rhode Island, Arkansas, Minnesota, and Iowa. New York governor Andrew Cuomo approved a similar measure by executive order.

Advocates of these measures have emphasized that they do not raise any First Amendment issues, as private parties are still free to protest, boycott, or speak out against Israel in any way. However, states may be obligated to protect taxpayer money from being used to promote or support discrimination based on religion, race, or nationality.

The passage of anti-BDS legislation reflects an understanding that the campaign “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,” Northwestern University law professor Eugene Kontorovich wrote in The Washington Post in 2015.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political party, the Christian Democratic Union, echoed this criticism in December, passing a resolution stating that the party “declares with this motion its disapproval and rejection of every form of BDS activity and condemns these activities as anti-Semitic.”

Many BDS leaders have publicly opposed the two-state solution and affirmed that the movement seeks Israel’s destruction. Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the movement, said in 2014 that Palestinians have a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance.” Leading activist As’ad Abu Khalil wrote in 2012 that “Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”

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