The Michigan State Legislature and Governor Rick Snyder officially made the State of Michigan the 16th state in the U.S. to outlaw and condemn discrimination via the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel and Israelis. The bipartisan legislation (HB 5821 and 5822), sponsored by Representatives Al Pscholka, Robert Wittenberg, Mike Callton, Jeremy Moss and Andy Schor, prohibit the state from contracting with a business that boycotts a strategic partner of the United States.
Michigan is one of a growing number of states fighting back against national origin discrimination. The bills protect Michigan’s economy from efforts to restrict trade with Israel, efforts which are being promoted by the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. “These bills protect Michigan’s citizens from the devastating economic impact that would result from a boycott of Israel,” commented Peggy Shapiro, Midwest Director of StandWithUs. The organization has long been involved in educating key leaders about the issues relating to anti-boycott legislation praised the legislation. “This legislation is good for the future prosperity of the state, the nation and Israel.” Michigan enjoys tens of millions of dollars in annual economic trade with Israeli entities, in addition to business done with many other partners who have commercial interests in Israel. Such trade encompasses many of the state’s most important economic sectors, such as defense, technology research and development, and health sciences. Shapiro said legislators sent a strong message that the state will not tolerate attempts to weaken its ability to conduct trade with Israel or any other country.
“These bills ensure the State of Michigan will not support those that participate in campaigns fueled by intolerance and anti-Semitism – like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The state and governor have taken a clear stand against the bigotry and discrimination of BDS, which singles out only Israel,” she said.
The legislation exercises the state’s discretion with taxpayer funds and is an important part of reinforcing public policy and the basic ethical standards of government. It does not impact individual conduct or speech.
The goal of the BDS campaign is the elimination of the State of Israel. While some BDS proponents claim it is about “occupation,” BDS movement founder Omar Barghouti has said in the past, “Even if the occupation were to end, my call for BDS would not.”
The legislation is the result of many community organizations providing grassroots support. Shapiro praised the Michigan JCRC/ADL, The Israel Allies Foundation, and The Israel Project Association for “their vision, leadership and partnership that led to this crucial moment.”
StandWithUs (SWU) is a 15-year-old, international, non-profit Israel education organization that supports people around the world who want to educate their campuses and communities about Israel. Based in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters throughout the U.S. including the Midwest, in Israel, the UK Canada and Australia.