June 29, 2017 | The Jerusalem Post

North Carolina Lawmakers Approve Anti-BDS Bill

Legislators from North Carolina's General Assembly passed a bill on Wednesday that would punish companies engaged with state business who participate in the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign targeting Israel.

The bill will now be sent to Governor Roy Cooper for signing. If Cooper endorses the anti-BDS bill, North Carolina would become the 22nd US state with a law imposing punitive measures on companies and entities involved in BDS.

The North Carolina House Bill 261 based its prohibition against BDS activities on “entities that do business with or in such countries, make discriminatory decisions on the basis of national origin that impair those companies' commercial soundness.”

The enforcement of France's anti-BDS Larouche Law relies on a similar definition of anti-discrimination based on the national origin of Israelis.

North Carolina's House Bill 216 outlines “the public policy of the United States, as enshrined in several federal acts, to oppose boycotts against Israel, and Congress has concluded as a matter of national trade policy that cooperation with Israel materially benefits United States companies and improves American competitiveness; and Israel in particular is known for its dynamic and innovative approach in many business sectors, and, therefore, a company's decision to discriminate against Israel, Israeli entities, or entities that do business with or in Israel is an unsound business practice.”

According to a statement from the North Carolina Jewish Federations, “The State of North Carolina has long been a trading partner with Israel and thanks to this legislation, that connection will not be hindered. North Carolina businesses conduct nearly one hundred and forty million of dollars per year in exports and commerce with Israel.”

The bill garnered bi-partisan support and was sponsored by Senators Tommy Tucker, Rick Gunn, and Andrew Brock, and Representatives John Szoka, Stephen Ross, and Jon Hardister. Representatives from the various federations across North Carolina praised the assembly's passage of the bill. 

“This bill makes it clear that the State of North Carolina stands with Israel, which has long been an important trading partner of North Carolina,” said Carin Savel, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary.

Charlotte Jewish Federation executive director Susan J. Worrel said the bill “will solidify the relationship between North Carolina and Israel, who share important values and a mutually beneficial business relationship.”

The bill “is an important step in the right direction,” said Jill Madsen from Durham-Chapel Hill CEO. She added, “It prevents companies which boycott Israel based on national origin from doing business with the state of North Carolina.”

“This sends a significant message against hatred and discrimination and will outlaw and condemn discrimination against Israel and Israelis. We look forward to Governor Roy Cooper's signature, making North Carolina the twenty-second state to take such action,” said Greensboro executive director Marilyn Forman Chandler.

ABC affiliate Channel 11 in Raleigh – where the state's legislature is located – wrote in its report on the issue that “supporters of BDS, including activist Linda Sarsour, insist the campaign against Israeli companies, products, universities, and academics, is a non-violent protest against Israel for 'occupying and colonizing Palestinian land.”' 

Holocaust survivor and head of Munich's German Jewish community, Charlotte Knobloch, previously told The Jerusalem Post that BDS is “a modernized form of Nazi jargon by demanding 'Don't buy from the Jewish State.”' The Nazis waged a campaign of  “Don't Buy from Jews” in the 1930's.

Benjamin Weinthal reports on human rights in the Middle East and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.