BDS-sympathizing companies won’t receive any public funds if passed
By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP
Companion bills were filed in the Texas Senate and House on Monday that would prohibit the use of state public funds for companies that are involved with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
BDS is a global campaign attempting to increase political and economic pressure on Israel through boycotts, divestment of investments and international sanctions. While it isn’t officially stated by BDS, it’s believed that one of the target goals is delegitimizing the State of Israel.
State Representative Phil King (R-Weatherford), will sponsor House Bill 89, while State Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) will sponsor Senate Bill 134.
“This is going to be a very bipartisan bill,” King said. “We’re going to get a lot of Democrat support as well as Republicans. This sends a strong statement that Texas stands with its friends in Israel, and (BDS) directly contradicts state public policy.”
King said there were four reasons he co-wrote the bill with Creighton and he laid those out for the TJP on Monday.
- 1. “As a Christian my religious heritage is linked to the nation of Israel and the Jewish people.”
- 2. “As an American, our national security is dependent on our relationship with Israel, who, most of the time, is our only true friend in that part of the world.”
- 3. “As a Texas legislator, Texas has a significant economic relationship with Israel. We do a lot of business with them. And also, we have a significant Jewish population and this issue is very important to them.”
- 4. “Bottom line, it’s just the right thing to do.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and AJC are collaborating closely with King and Creighton to provide assistance and support of this upcoming legislation. The JCRC will hold a meeting Thursday, Nov. 17, with local Jewish organizations and involved individuals to craft communal strategy for outreach to legislators to support the anti-BDS legislation.
“Israel is an oasis of freedom in the Middle East and our nation’s most valuable ally in the region,” Creighton said. “Israel’s economic strength is reflective of essential values they share with Texas, so people of good conscience should be encouraging them, not stifling their success. It’s time for Texas to send a strong message of unity with Israel.”
King said other states have passed a similar bill and he’s confident it will get done. However, he does recognize the challenges that come with it.
“It is not an easy piece of legislation to pass, because pension matters and others don’t like being directed how to or not invest funds,” King said. “And then government entities don’t like being told who they and cannot contract with. But this is good policy for the state of Texas, and so I know Senator Creighton and I, and others that will be co-sponsors will all be working very hard to get this finished up in the law during the next session.”
Monday was the first day to file legislation and the House will convene Jan. 10. King expects hearings to occur in late February and hopes to get the bill onto the floor within a month and have it passed before the end of session in May.
“I have a high level of confidence we are going to get this passed for Texas,” King said.
The anti-BDS legislation, among other issues, will be highlighted at the Jewish Communities’ Advocacy Day at the State: Legislative Mission to Austin organized by the Dallas JCRC on Feb. 22, 2017. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss the bill with influential legislators at the daylong event. Among invited attendees are Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Joe Straus.