By Larry Yudelson, New Jersey Jewish Standard
Bill to divest from companies boycotting Israel awaits Christie’s signature
New Jersey pension and annuity funds will divest from companies that boycott Israel, if Governor Chris Christie signs the bill the New Jersey legislature passed on Monday.
The bill, which was strongly supported by the Jewish community, passed 69 to 3 with 2 abstentions in the state Assembly, and 37 to 0 in the Senate.
“We are sending a statement that we do not want to delegitimize our partner in freedom,” explained Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle of Englewood, one of the bill’s sponsors.
“We are grateful that once again members of the Senate and Assembly have made a strong statement in recognition of the historic cultural and economic ties between New Jersey and Israel,” Mark S. Levenson, president of the N.J. State Association of Jewish Federations, said.
Nine states already have passed similar laws targeting BDS, the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement Palestinian activists launched against Israel in 2005. The first anti-BDS bill to be signed into law was in Illinois; it was implemented in 2015. In Rhode Island, a bill has been passed by the legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature.
While the BDS movement has claimed a handful of high-profile victories, including a 2014 decision by the Presbyterian Church USA to sell its holdings in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola because of those companies’ activities in Israel, there has been little actual financial impact on the Israeli economy.
Israeli leaders have made fighting BDS a major priority in recent years. They have compared the BDS campaign to terrorism. “It is just like suicide bombings,” said Knesset member Anat Berko, who has written two books on suicide bombers.Read more