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A Republican California assemblyman introduced a bill into the state legislature on Monday that would forbid the state – whose campuses have been a focal point of BDS activity – from doing business with companies boycotting, sanctioning or divesting from Israel.
Travis Allen, of Huntington Beach in southern California’s Orange County, introduced the bill – called the California- Israel Protection Act – to “require the State of California to divest from companies that boycott Israel.”
Allen said in a statement that the US and Israel “have historically stood together as allies due to our unique bond founded on shared values, a bilateral trade relationship, and our unwavering commitment to freedom and democracy.
Any company that is intentionally inflicting economic harm upon California’s trading partners weaken our ability to conduct business and harm the vital economic interests of our state. Further, boycotts of countries often derive from ethnic, religious, racial, or nationality discrimination, which directly contradicts the values of California citizens.”
The bill would also penalize companies boycotting products made in the settlements, east Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, since it would prohibit California from investing in any company that is “engaging in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with the State of Israel or companies based in the State of Israel or in territories controlled by the State of Israel.”
Allen said it is “unconscionable for our state to do business with companies that play politics and boycott our critical allies. California has developed long-standing social, political, and economic partnerships with the State of Israel that should not be cast aside by politicians.”
According to Allen, in 2014 California exported over $2.3 billion in goods to Israel, making Israel the state’s 18th largest export destination and its largest market in the Middle East.
South Carolina became the first US state to pass a similar bill in June, and this was followed by a bill approved by the Illinois legislature in July.
In addition, a number of other states – including Tennessee, New York, Indiana and Pennsylvania – have passed declaratory resolutions opposed to BDS.
One such resolution was passed by the Florida legislature in late December.
Stating that the BDS movement “is one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitic perspectives and advocating the elimination of the Jewish state,” the resolution said the Florida House of Representatives condemns BDS and “calls upon its governmental institutions to denounce hatred and discrimination whenever they appear.”