Missouri, Oklahoma join list of states with anti-BDS laws

Missouri Governor Mike Parson signs several bills on July 13, including the anti-BDS bill. Courtesy Governor’s office Facebook page.

From JNS and Israel InSight reports

On July 13, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed a bill making Missouri the 32nd state to enact an anti-BDS law. A similar measure became law in Oklahoma in May.

The Anti-Discrimination Against Israel Act prohibits Missouri and its political subdivisions from entering into contracts worth more than $100,000 with companies with 10 or more employees that engage in the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement against Israel.

Moreover, it exercises the state’s freedom to choose firms for contracts. It does not penalize or infringe on any individual’s right to free expression or penalize companies that choose not to do business with Israel for legitimate economic reasons.

The state’s House of Representatives passed the measure, 95-40, on May 15, while the state Senate did so, 28-1, on April 30. Previous attempts to pass the measure ran into opposition from some lawmakers on free speech grounds.

At the final hearing on May 14, Reps. Jered Taylor and Nick Schroer rebutted the testimony of Neveen Ayesh, government relations coordinator for American Muslims for Palestine. She testified against the bill in February 2018, asserting that the BDS movement is peaceful. Taylor cited her tweets, saying they were “the exact opposite.”

Schroer read an Ayesh tweet that said “I want to set Israel on fire with my own hands and watch it burn to ashes along with every Israeli in it. Call it what you want to call it.”

And to underscore that BDS, in seeking the destruction of Israel, is fundamentally antisemitic, Taylor read Ayesh tweets that said “#crimesworthyoftherope being a Jew” and “Thingsweallhate Jews.”

In her testimony, she said when she moved to the United States, she became friends with Jews and studied with them, and was still very close to them. But in 2013 she had tweeted “I tried befriending a Jew once. Worst idea ever. I now know why there will never be peace in the Middle East.”

She also told the House that she has no problem with the existence of Israel, but tweeted that she hoped to be alive to see the death of Israel. She said she does not condone violence, “being a Palestinian,” but tweeted that she wanted to join the al-Qassam brigade, a terrorist group.

The tweets were archived by Canary Mission.

The bill’s passage was hailed by supporters of Israel.

“The legislature has taken bold action to combat the insidious and hateful BDS movement that singles out Israel and encourages punitive actions against its economy and citizens,” said Nancy Lisker, director of the American Jewish Committee’s St. Louis region, in a statement after the House vote. “Israelis and Palestinians want peace, they want investment not divestment, and they want for the whole region to prosper. Through this legislation both economies, Missouri’s and Israel’s, will continue to grow.”

In a statement, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee said the legislation makes “clear that Missouri will not be party to the economic warfare waged by Israel’s detractors. Missourians can now rest assured that their tax dollars will not be used in furtherance of the anti-Semitic movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel.”

In Oklahoma, Governor Kevin Stitt signed the anti-BDS law on May 22, after the House passed the bill, 73-20, in March. That bill prohibits the state government from entering into contracts with entities that boycott the Jewish state, exempting contracts under $100,000. The new law requires the contractor to submit written verification that it is not partaking in the boycott.

The bill states that “Companies that refuse to deal with United States trade partners such as Israel make discriminatory decisions on the basis of national origin that impair those companies’ commercial soundness.”

“We welcome Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s signing of legislation that prohibits Oklahoma from contracting with companies that boycott Israel,” said the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in a statement. “We look forward to the remaining states rejecting the pernicious BDS campaign in the days ahead.”