Oppose Boycotts of Israel, Protect U.S. Companies

Israel has long been targeted with economic warfare, and Congress has a proud history of defending the Jewish state from such attacks. Please press your lawmakers to fight the boycott of Israel. Specifically, please urge your representative and senators to support the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720 and H.R.1697) and the Combating BDS Act of 2017 (S.170 and H.R. 2856).

Key Points

What is the BDS Movement?

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement seeks to stigmatize, delegitimize and isolate the State of Israel. BDS proponents seek to drive a wedge between Israel and the rest of the world—separating Israel’s government, businesses, universities and people from their partners abroad. By manipulating the language of international law, the BDS movement depicts Israel as an illegitimate aggressor, then seeks to sanction those who interact with the Jewish state.

Why is this Legislation Needed?

In March 2016, the U.N. Human Rights Council called for the creation of a blacklist of companies conducting certain activities beyond the 1949 Armistice line, including in East Jerusalem and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. In January 2018, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a pernicious report laying groundwork for utilizing the database to boycott these companies. The report threatens 206 firms—including at least 22 American companies—for actions that are completely legal under U.S. and Israeli law.

What Action is Congress Taking to Combat the BDS Movement?

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act (H.R. 1697 and S. 720) would expand remaining U.S. anti-boycott laws to international organizations like the United Nations and the European Union. Spearheaded by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH), and Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA), the measure also directs the U.S. Export-Import Bank to consider BDS activity when appraising a foreign company’s credit application. Introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) in the Senate and Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and Juan Vargas (D-CA) in the House, the Combating BDS Act of 2017 (S.170 and H.R. 2856) would grant state and local governments the right to disassociate pensions and contracts from entities that boycott, divest from or sanction Israel. The bipartisan measure would also provide federal authorization for state and local officials to take action against efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Does the Israel Anti-Boycott Act Restrict Free Speech?

Nothing in the Israel-Anti-Boycott Act restricts constitutionally-protected free speech. The bill only regulates commercial conduct intended to comply with, further or support unauthorized foreign boycotts. American courts have routinely upheld federal laws restricting commerce that conflicts with U.S. foreign policy interests as not violating free speech. Accordingly, under the proposed legislation, companies and individuals would be barred from refusing to conduct business with Israel in order to satisfy a request from the United Nations or European Union. However, they would remain entirely free to boycott Israel on their own volition.

How Has Congress Tackled BDS in the Past?

Congress has successfully combated foreign boycotts against Israel, both in statute and by pressing potential free trade partners, such as Bahrain and Oman, to end these harmful practices. In 2015, lawmakers passed the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which instructed American negotiators to make halting European BDS against Israel a key objective in the ongoing free trade talks with the European Union (EU).

How Can I Get Involved?

Please contact your members of Congress and urge them to cosponsor the Combating BDS of 2017 and cosponsor the Israel Anti-Boycott Act.

Background Information

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720)

   •  Bill Summary
   •  Text of Legislation
   • 
Cosponsors

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act (H.R. 1697)

   •  Bill Summary
   •  Text of Legislation
   •  Cosponsors

The Combating BDS Act of 2017 (S. 170) 

   •  Bill Summary
   •  Text of Legislation
   •  Cosponsors
 

The Combating BDS Act of 2017 (H.R. 2856)

   • Bill Summary
   •  Text of Legislation
   •  Cosponsors


Contact Congress

Urge your member of Congress to support the Combating BDS Act.

Take Action

Contact Congress

Urge your members of Congress to support the Israel Anti-Boycott Act.

Take Action