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Pro-Israel groups laud new bill to protect US businesses from BDS pressure

Just as the 1979 legislation protected U.S. companies from pressure to engage in the Arab League Boycott, the 2018 EAADA will protect companies from discrimination and targeting at the hands of BDS.

A coalition of pro-Israel groups, including the World Jewish Congress, the Lawfare Project, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Israeli-American Coalition for Action, applauded the introduction of a bill in Congress that protects American businesses from pressure to comply with boycotts of U.S. allies such as Israel.

The bill, Export Administration Anti-Discrimination Act (EAADA), which was introduced last week by Reps. Ron DeSantis (D-Fla.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in the House of Representatives, seeks to update anti-discrimination protections codified in the Export Administration Act (EAA) of 1979, which prevents foreign entities from pressuring U.S. corporations to comply with boycotts of U.S. allies, including the State of Israel.

It will also update and strengthen enforcement of the 1979 law by creating a private right of action for those harmed by unlawful boycotts.

“The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has weaponized economic activity to purposefully inflict financial harm on Israel,” said DeSantis. “Americans and our allies alike deserve the freedom to conduct business without the perpetual threat of discriminatory boycotts.”

World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder said, “I would like to thank congressmen Ron DeSantis and chairman Bob Goodlatte for putting forward this important legislation that will combat the BDS movement, which is rearing its ugly head all over the world.”

Just as the 1979 legislation protected U.S. companies from pressure to engage in the Arab League Boycott, the 2018 EAADA will protect companies from discrimination and targeting at the hands of the BDS movement.

Executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents Malcolm Hoenlein noted that there have been ongoing calls for companies to engage in discriminatory boycotts targeting those who do business with Israel. This led many states, including California, New York and Texas, to enact anti-BDS laws that prohibit state contracting with or investing in companies that boycott Israel.

“At the federal level, legal protections fall short,” said Hoenlein. “Now is the time for the federal government to take action to safeguard our business interests, and those of our friends and allies worldwide.”

The Israeli-American Coalition for Action, which was involved in efforts to pass anti-BDS legislation on the state-level, also praised the legislators for the bill.

“As Israeli-Americans, we understand how important it is to protect American businesses from foreign groups that demonize Israel, America’s strongest ally in the Middle East, just as we work to pass laws that protect everyday Americans from having their tax dollars support the discriminatory, hateful campaign that demonizes the Jewish state, often with anti-Semitic propaganda,” said its chairman Shawn Evenhaim.

Other Jewish and pro-Israel organizations supporting the bill include the American Jewish Congress, Rabbinical Council of America and Alpha Epsilon Pi (AePi) Fraternity.

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