May 3, 2017 | The Jerusalem Post
Texas Governor Signs Anti-BDS Bill on Israel’s Independence Day
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed on Tuesday — Israel's day of independence — a robust anti-boycott Israel bill into law. The bill bans state entities from engaging in business with organizations and companies that support BDS.
The new legislation is a shot into the arm of the anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement in the US.
“As Israel’s No. 1 trading partner in the United States, Texas is proud to reaffirm its support for the people of Israel and we will continue to build on our historic partnership… Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies, and we will not tolerate such actions against an important ally,” stated the governor at the signing ceremony.
“The measure Gov. Abbott signed today became law with bilateral support because Texas stands with its business partners and for free trade. In her 69 years, Israel has become a thriving, burgeoning state by enjoying and sharing the fruits of individual freedom and a pioneering spirit for innovation and entrepreneurism,” Charles Kaufman, who chairs B’nai B’rith’s International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, told The Jerusalem Post. Kaufman, who resides in Austin, testified on behalf of the anti-BDS bill.
Kaufman added, “Advocates of BDS would do well to learn from the robust business relationship Texas enjoys with the State of Israel. The path to peace is not through hatred, false narratives, boycotts or terrorism. States like Texas won't fall for such nonsense. It is only fitting that this bill becomes law in the same week that the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce has arranged for Israeli experts to present a forum at Texas State University on how the state can leverage Israeli water technology to meet future water challenges in Texas.”
Joel Schwitzer, Regional Director of the American Jewish Committee office in Dallas, told the Post, “How fitting that Governor Abbott signed the anti-BDS legislation into law on Yom Ha'atzmaut. As the Modern State of Israel enters its 69th year of existence, it does so knowing that its relationship with the state of Texas is on firm and solid footing. We applaud the visionary leadership of Governor Abbott, who has worked with AJC for over a year to learn more about BDS and how it might be combated through legislation.”
He added, “AJC is also proud of the leadership displayed by Representative Phil King and Senator Brandon Creighton, who championed this legislation and led the charge. By re-affirming the importance of the Texas-Israel relationship, this law will enhance the economies of both Texas and Israel — cementing this essential partnership based on shared values and ideals.”
Christians United for Israel (CUFI) issued a statement, saying, “The legislation’s passage comes after months of hard work by the bill’s sponsors, State Sen. Brandon Creighton and State Rep. Phil King, as well as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. HB 89 is among the strongest anti-BDS bills in the country.
“CUFI’s efforts in support of the measure included, bringing Texans from across the state to Austin to lobby lawmakers in support of the bill, testifying before both the Senate and House committees to which the legislation was assigned, and distributing an action alert letting Texas State Representatives know that CUFI’s membership is behind the bill.”
“I’m very proud of my home state for standing up for the US-Israel relationship and effectively shutting down the BDS movement’s efforts to make Texas complicit in their antisemitism,” said CUFI Action Fund Chairwoman Sandy Hagee Parker, who was on hand for the bill’s signing ceremony.
It is unclear how the new anti-BDS law will impact the Dallas-based Comerica bank, which holds a BDS account with the pro-Iran BDS group, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL). The IADL supports Iran's regime and its nuclear program.
“Comerica should close the account,” Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith, told the Post in March.
When asked about the BDS account, Alexandra Alvelo, a spokeswoman for Hudson Executive Capital, a partial owner of Comerica, declined to respond to Post queries.
Efforts to reach Hudson Executive Capital founder Doug Braunstein were not successful.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told the Post in March that Comerica should pull the plug on the IADL account: “Facilitating the bank accounts of BDS organizations constitutes support for BDS. Banks maintaining such accounts should carefully consider the danger of running afoul of strict anti-BDS legislation in the US and other countries.”
Wayne Mielke, a spokesman for Comerica, responded to the Post by email in March, saying, “We don’t discuss customer relationships, and want you to know (again) that we have a robust compliance program at the bank.”
Benjamin Weinthal is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.