Anti-BDS Bill Signed Into Law at JCC Austin
By Julie Zweig
Texas can no longer do business with companies that boycott Israel or its settlements, thanks to a bipartisan bill signed into law at the Jewish Community Center of Austin on Israel Independence Day.
More than 150 supporters came to the campus to watch the signing ceremony including Michael Dell, Amb. Eitan Levon, consul general of Israel to the Southwest, and Shalom Austin CEO Rabbi Daniel Septimus.
"This was a historic moment for the Texas Jewish community as Jewish and non-Jewish leaders from across the state on Israeli Independence Day gathered to watch Governor Abbott sign into law the anti-BDS bill, affirming the strong relationship and shared values between Israel and the State of Texas. It was an inspiring moment for all who were in attendance," said Rabbi Septimus.
Before the signing, Amb. Levon thanked the state for standing with Israel.
“You can always count on Texas,” Governor Greg Abbott said. “Any anti-Israel policy is an anti-Texas policy… I am proud to have commemorated Israel’s Independence Day by signing into law anti-BDS legislation in Texas.”
BDS, or the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement, is an effort to use economic pressure to change Israel’s policy toward Palestinians.
In its written platform, the movement claims to have three goals: ending Israeli occupation of areas it conquered in 1967; achieving full equality for Arab Israelis; and protecting the rights of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War of Independence.
While the Jewish community holds diverse views on what will bring peace in the Middle East, the vast majority see the BDS effort as a discriminatory attempt to undermine Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state.
"We deeply value a diversity of viewpoints on Israel. However, the ultimate goal of the BDS movement, as stated by its founders and key leaders, is the delegitimization and destruction of the State of Israel," said Rabbi Septimus.
Texas’ anti-BDS bill was unanimously approved in the state House of Representatives, and the state’s Senate approved the bill by overwhelming numbers.
The Comptroller’s Office will now be required to compile a list of companies involved in the BDS movement and businesses will have to be verified before they are offered state contracts.
Texas is the 20th state with laws or executive orders banning state business with companies that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, against Israel.