The House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved on Thursday a bill targeting boycotts of Israel, setting the legislation on a path to a full vote in the House.
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act — a bipartisan bill sponsored by Representatives Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA) — would require the president to update federal regulations so as to prohibit compliance by American companies with international attempts to boycott the Jewish state.
The text of the bill, originally introduced in 2017, specifically cites the notoriously anti-Israel United Nations Human Rights Council’s effort to “blacklist” companies operating in Israel as a primary motivation for the legislation.
The bill states that it opposes “restrictive trade practices or boycotts fostered or imposed by any international governmental organization against Israel or requests to impose restrictive trade practices or boycotts by any international governmental organization against Israel.”
Compliance with such boycotts would be punished by a fine.
Roskam said in a statement that the law would “combat the insidious BDS movement.”
“As international bodies seek to wage economic warfare against Israel, it is imperative we stand with our ally, Israel, and combat these one-sided, politically-motivated efforts to weaken and isolate the Jewish State,” he continued. “This legislation would update our anti-Boycott laws to ensure we combat modern boycott efforts targeting Israel.”
He also pointed out that the bill does not violate freedom of speech. “Individuals who actively avoid purchasing goods and services because of their own political viewpoint would not be subject to the bill,” Roskam said. “Similarly, the bill does not regulate civil society organizations that are critical of Israeli policies or prevent them from speaking in favor of BDS.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee hailed the House committee’s move:
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) June 28, 2018
On Friday, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt also expressed gratitude:
Thank you, @HouseForeign & @HFACDemocrats, for unanimously passing bipartisan Israel Anti-Boycott Act. As I wrote last year in @washingtonpost, ADL supports this legislation b/c it updates an important existing law & doesn’t clash with 1st amendment. https://t.co/9Q14Kqlvya
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) June 29, 2018