California Lawmakers OK Bill Penalizing Companies Boycotting Israel
Both houses of California’s legislature have now approved a bill to ban state government agencies from awarding contracts to companies that choose to join the international boycott against Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine.
The bill, AB 2844, if passed, would be a serious attack on the worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israeli apartheid and its treatment of Palestinians.
Companies who choose to boycott Israel, would be accused of being in violation of the state’s civil rights law and would not be permitted to accept a California government contract of $US100,000 or more.
The bill, which has eight different amendments, was eventually passed 60 to 0 in the assembly, and will now go to Governor Jerry Brown for has to decide whether to veto or sign the bill into law by the end of September.
BDS and civil rights advocates have urged Brown to veto the bill, while supporters of the bill have made much of the trade ties between the U.S. and Israel, as well as Israel’s positive treatment of LGBTQ persons as a reason for supporting AB 2844 – ignoring Israel’s long history of oppressing and collectively punishing Palestinians.
“AB 2844 is both an attack on the constitutional rights of Californians and a waste of taxpayer money, estimated to cost upwards of $140 million annually, according to the California Department of Finance, which opposes it,” read a statement from the Coalition to Stop AB 2844, which includes over 100 civil society organizations.
“Government should not be in the business of punishing supporters of BDS, whether corporations, universities, organizations or individuals, by denying them contracts,” said Nasser Barghouti from the U.S. Campaign to End The Israeli Occupation.
A number of other states, including New York and New Jersey, have passed similar laws to outlaw the boycott of Israel.