Overwhelmingly approved bill is the ‘strongest anti-BDS legislation to date,’ says Israel advocacy group

File: Protesters urging a boycott against Israel. (Wikimedia Commons)
File: Protesters urging a boycott against Israel. (Wikimedia Commons)


WASHINGTON — Florida’s Senate overwhelmingly passed a measure Wednesday that targets corporate entities from partaking in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

The pro-Israel advocacy group StandWithUs has called the bill, which passed a vote of 112-2, the “strongest anti-boycott legislation to date” as they commended lawmakers and urged Florida Governor Rick Scott to sign the bill into law.

StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein issued a statement calling the BDS movement a “dangerous front in the war against Israel” and a “propaganda campaign that is designed to erode support for Israel, isolate it as a pariah of nations, and marshal international forces to delegitimize and eventually eliminate the Jewish state.”

“The movement, while being anti-Israel is not pro-peace or even pro-Palestinian,” she added. “Its goals, if achieved, would leave Palestinians impoverished. We welcome the fact that Florida is joining Illinois and South Carolina in rejecting the boycott campaign.”

In the last year, several other states have taken up similar legislation, such as Illinois and South Carolina. Illinois has targeted BDS activities through investment — prohibiting state investment in entities that boycott Israel or Israeli companies. South Carolina has done the same through procurement — banning the state from contracting with entities that engage in Israel boycotts.

The Florida bill is the strongest of any anti-BDS measure passed through a state legislature, according to Peggy Shapiro, the Midwest director of StandWithUs who lobbied the bill, because it targets BDS activities through both banning state investment and procurement in such entities.

While the bill received near unanimous support in the Florida Senate, critics cited it as an attempt to suppress or limit speech rights for those critical of Israel, a claim Shapiro disagrees with strongly.

If the bill becomes law, it would not impinge on free speech, Shapiro insisted; rather, it would merely allow the state of Florida to exercise its discretion in choosing what kinds of companies it spends taxpayer money on.

“If one group of people write a textbook and another group writes a textbook, they are both able to express their speech and write the book,” she said. “But the state of Florida can buy the book from whoever it wants.”

As reported by The Times of Israel