Israel

North Carolina Becomes 22nd State to Ban Discriminatory Boycotts of Israel

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signed legislation on Thursday prohibiting the state from doing business with companies that boycott Israel.

The bipartisan bill, which passed North Carolina’s House of Representatives by a vote of 96-19 and Senate by a vote of 45-3 last month, also requires the state to divest from any existing business dealings with entities that boycott Israel, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.

“This bill makes it clear that the State of North Carolina stands with Israel, which has long been an important trading partner of North Carolina,” observed Carin Savel, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary.

North Carolina does an estimated $140 million worth of business with Israel every year.

“The Jewish Federations across North Carolina have worked diligently on legislation to ensure that BDS efforts in their state fail,” said Skip Schrayer, chairman of the Israel Action Network, an organization created jointly by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “We applaud their tremendous work and commend the Gov. Roy Cooper for taking this important step against discrimination against Israelis by those who oppose the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in our homeland.”

Similar anti-BDS bills have become law in MichiganPennsylvaniaIllinoisSouth CarolinaArizonaGeorgiaColoradoFloridaAlabamaCaliforniaNew JerseyOhio, Rhode Island, ArkansasMinnesotaNevada, Kansas, 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.

In May, the governors of all 50 U.S. states released a statement strongly denouncing boycotts of Israel as “antithetical to our values and the values of our respective states.”

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.”

[Photo: Jim Bowen/Flickr]