Fight the Boycott of Israel

Israel has long been targeted with economic warfare and Congress has a proud history of defending Israel from such attacks. While Congress previously focused on the Arab League Boycott of Israel, today’s challenge comes primarily from Europe, where some governments are initiating efforts to boycott and divest from Israel and sanction companies that operate there.

On Dec. 14, 2015, Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Peter Roskam (R-IL), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Ed Royce (R-CA) introduced a resolution in the House denouncing the new European Commission labeling guidelines on Israeli goods produced in the West Bank and other areas. The bipartisan legislation states that the new labeling guidelines “undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian peace process” and calls on the EU to help assist with the conflict resolution.

On Jan. 20, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a resolution in the Senate echoing the opposition of the House resolution against the European Commission labeling guidelines on Israeli goods produced in the West Bank and other areas.

On Feb. 10, lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced the Combating BDS Act of 2016 (S. 2531 and H.R. 4514), a bipartisan piece of legislation aimed at increasing efforts to combat economic warfare against Israel at the state and local levels.

Authored by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) in the Senate and Reps. Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Bob Dold (R-IL) in the House, the bipartisan bills will protect state and local governments’ right to disassociate pensions and contracts from entities that boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel.

Key Points

  1. Europe’s Actions Isolate and Delegitimize Israel
    There are many elements of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, yet the most harmful are waged by governments and international institutions that delegitimize, stigmatize and isolate Israel.  Europe has emerged as the greatest challenge.

  2. Congress Has Long Fought Economic Attacks Against Israel
    Congress has successfully combatted foreign boycotts against Israel, both in statute and by pressing potential free trade partners, such as Bahrain and Oman, to end these harmful practices. Today, the United States has leverage in the ongoing EU free trade talks.

  3. Putting Europe on Alert
    Congress has never countenanced economic attacks on Israel. To date, some European government institutions have waged anti-Israel activities cost-free. These attacks on Israel make peace more difficult and directly threaten American companies doing legitimate business with Israel. Lawmakers have for the first time passed critical legislation to combat this activity—instructing U.S. trade negotiators to push back against government-led BDS in Europe— making clear to the EU that during the free trade negotiations Congress will take into account any such attacks against Israel.

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Urge Your Member of Congress to Support the Combating BDS Act of 2016.
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