On Monday California Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) introduced a bill (AB-1552) that, if adopted, would prohibit state-run government entities from doing business with companies that engage in boycotts with a “person or entity…based on the race, color, religion, gender, or nationality.” The BDS movement, said Allen, “use(s) false, demonizing, and delegitimizing propaganda against the State of Israel.”
“[It] has become a pretext for the expression of anti-Jewish bigotry,” he said. “I look forward to ensuring California continues to stand with Israel as a vital ally and economic partner.” Allen posted an image on Facebook of the Israeli flag next to California’s flag.
Ohio introduced a similar bill in October. Illinois and South Carolina passed anti-BDS legislation in May and June, respectively.
Allen also introduced another bill (AB-1551), dubbed the California Israel Commerce Protection Act, that would prohibit California state trust funds—taxpayers’ money—from being invested in “business firms or financial institutions that engage in discriminatory business practices in furtherance of, or in compliance with, the Arab League’s economic boycott of Israel.”
In 1977, Congress made it illegal for U.S. companies to cooperate with the Arab League boycott, threatening civil and criminal penalties.
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Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.