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.