The Missouri Legislature has passed the “Anti-Discrimination Against Israel Act.” The vote came Thursday and Gov. Mike Parson is expected to sign it into law.
The American Jewish Committee is one of dozens of organizations that applauded the passage of SB 739. The bill prohibits the state and its political subdivisions from entering into contracts worth more than $100,000 with companies with 10 or more employees that engage in the radical movement that promotes the boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) of Israel.
“The legislature has taken bold action to combat the insidious and hateful BDS movement that singles out Israel and encourages punitive actions against its economy and citizens,” said Nancy Lisker, director of the AJC St. Louis region. “We look forward to Gov. Parson signing this important bill into law. Israelis and Palestinians want peace, they want investment not divestment, and they want for the whole region to prosper. Through this legislation both economies, Missouri’s and Israel’s, will continue to grow.”
SB 739 articulates Missouri’s public policy against discrimination in public contracting. The legislation exercises the state’s freedom to choose the companies with which it will contract. It does not penalize or infringe on any individual’s right to free expression or penalize companies that choose not to do business with Israel for legitimate economic reasons. SB 739 is consistent with federal law. The U.S. government has emphatically rejected boycotts based on national origin and interferences with foreign trade policy in general. Congress has legislated against boycotts of strategic allies for four decades.
Republican Rep. Holly Rehder led the Senate bill through the House. She said doing anything to support the boycott movement goes against Missouri’s economic policies and would be “absurd.”
Rehder, who has traveled to Israel twice on fact-finding missions, said she originally proposed the legislation in 2019 because of her experience in Israel “and understanding of the level of discrimination that they go through on a daily basis and the level of threats that they are under … I think it’s time for someone here in Missouri to tell their story.”
Missouri is the latest state to take concrete action against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to delegitimize and demonize Israel. BDS is primarily run and promoted by Palestinian extremists, often with ties to terrorism and the Muslim Brotherhood. Aspects of it exist on the campuses of hundreds of U.S. colleges and universities where student government groups regularly demand their schools divest from Israeli firms or those that do business in Israel.
States that have passed similar measures include Alabama, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.
Once signed into law, Missouri will become the 29th state to have enacted an anti-BDS executive order or legislation.
“Thanks to the strong partnership between AJC and the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, Christians United for Israel and countless individuals who have volunteered their time to advocate tirelessly against BDS in Missouri over the last three years, our state achieved this landmark bill,” Lisker said.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice