Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill preventing the state from contracting with businesses or entities that participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Pennsylvania is the 14th state to pass anti-BDS legislation.
The legislation prohibits “contracting with BDS businesses” and establishes that an “entity must certify that it will not engage in such boycotting during the duration of the contract.”
The BDS movement is a modern form of anti-Semitism which seeks to undermine the State of Israel economically. While it claims to support Palestinian rights against Israeli “oppression”, it has targeted businesses that give Palestinian workers jobs and a decent livelihood unavailable to them in the Palestinian Autonomy.
Other states who have passed anti-BDS laws are California, New Jersey, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Alabama, South Carolina, Rhode Island and Iowa. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order against doing business with Israel boycotters.
The prime sponsor of the bill, Representative Matt Baker, said, “This legislation makes it very clear that companies can either perform a BDS action or they can do business with Pennsylvania. However, they cannot do both.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, Jewish Voice for Peace, Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild and Palestine Legal opposed the bill, arguing that it stifles the voices of those who oppose Israel’s policy, hinders constitutional rights to free speech, and boycotts are a legitimate tool of social protest.