By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP
When House Bill 89 and Senate Bill 134 were filed in Austin last week, state Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) said it was going to take a group effort to get the bill turned into a law.
And key leaders in the Dallas Jewish community have started doing their part.
At a meeting hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Nov. 17, community leaders from several organizations gathered for more than 90 minutes to discuss strategy and planning to make sure the anti-BDS bills would pass in either the Texas House or Senate at the next session.
The filed bills would prohibit the use of state public funds for companies that are involved with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement. BDS is a global campaign attempting to increase political and economic pressure on Israel, with target goals of directly or indirectly delegitimizing the State of Israel.
“We are going to make national news,” Federation Chair Dan Prescott said at the meeting. “We are going to help show that Texas supports and stands up for Israel. And that is going to send a strong message.”
Charles Pulman attended the meeting on behalf of representative King, and made it clear that community effort is going to be key for this to pass.
Thirteen other states have passed similar legislation. In South Carolina and Illinois it was a non-partisan legislation and passed unanimously, which is a strong foundation to work with, but there will be challenges with the economic nature of the bill.
“There is lots of attention on this from the funds and those managing them,” Pulman said. “They don’t like being told how to invest their money, so this is something that seeing community support and addressing with your representation will go a long way.”
Local Jewish leaders will be encouraging members of the community to reach out to their representation with a clear, and organized message about the legislation.
A fact sheet and a script for making an introduction to a member of the legislature were passed out at the meeting, and community members are encouraged to make contact using email, phone calls and faxes.
Yes, faxes. While it’s not a common communication technique anymore, it stands out since there are fewer being sent each day.
Pulman said it’s important to speak with a clear message, through whatever medium that may be.
“Remember, this is a bill not a resolution,” Pulman said. “There have been other resolutions talked about, and those are nice, but this is a bill that has teeth and will make an impact. For us, we think it’s important to have the proper focus on that.”
Organizers also discussed and laid out plans for a pair of Austin advocacy events surrounding the legislation. On Feb. 9 there will be a rally, and Feb. 22 will be Jewish Communities Day at the State, each date is expected to be well attended by members of the community.
General awareness is also important in this issue, and pins were passed out at the meeting that had the Israel and Texas flags connected, a sign that the state stands of up for Israel.
Many local Jewish organizations are committed to promote the anti-BDS legislation that was filed for consideration when the Texas legislature convenes in January.
Those in attendance at the first meeting were:
- Congregation Shaare Tefilla
- Dallas Chapter of Hadassah
- Temple Shalom Israel Connection Committee
To get involved, contact the Jewish Community Relations Council of the JFGD at 214-615-5293 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.