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July 24, 2015

N.J. Legislature moves toward condemning boycotts of Israel

Companies that boycott the Jewish state could face divestment

Companies that boycott Israel may soon receive backlash from the state of New Jersey.

A pair of measures aimed at condemning economic protests against the Jewish state and preventing the state’s retirement fund from investing in companies that boycott Israeli businesses were approved by a state Senate committee Thursday.

“As a state and nation, we have a long-standing relationship with Israel and a common bond that is rooted in the values of freedom, democracy and equal rights,” state Sen. Jim Beach, D-Camden, said in a statement. “The effort to boycott Israeli goods, products and businesses as a way to harm the state is unacceptable and further impedes the effort to bring peace to the region.”

The divestment bill would not apply to companies that provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians, however.

Boycotts of Israeli goods have been called by activists who object to the country’s treatment of Palestinians. One group, the Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, wants people to boycott Israeli companies that “profit from the violation of Palestinian rights.”

In Philadelphia on Tuesday, Mayor Michael Nutter detailed his trip to Israel, where he met with companies interested in establishing an American presence.

“Since our initial trip almost two years ago, we have developed a very close relationship with Tel Aviv, which has resulted in a number of Israeli companies choosing Philadelphia for their U.S. base,” Nutter said in a statement.

The second new Jersey measure condemns any boycott or movement against Israel.

“We have to be vocal in our opposition to these kinds of movements and active in showing our support for inclusiveness, tolerance and acceptance,” state Sen. Peter Barnes, D-Middlesex, said in a statement. “The campaign [to boycott] is a disgraceful attempt to damage Israel and harm its residents.

“As elected officials, we stand together in condemning this effort.”

The measures were approved by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee on a vote of 4-0.