Organizations across the state are rallying members to encourage the bill’s advancement, following a town hall meeting of more than 150 community members and advocates on Wednesday.

BOSTON—Following a town hall hosted by the Israeli-American Coalition for Action (IAC for Action), hundreds of Massachusetts residents voiced their support of bipartisan legislation that would prohibit the state from contracting with companies that violate Massachusetts’s anti-discrimination laws, including companies that boycott Israeli businesses.

IAC for Action launched the advocacy campaign Wednesday, Feb. 1, at a town hall meeting where more than 150 community members heard experts from the IAC for Action, the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Community Relations Council explain what the bill entails and how to take action to ensure its passage.

“Within just a few days of initiating this campaign, we are witnessing a remarkable outpouring of passion and support from across Massachusetts,” IAC for Action Chairman Shawn Evenhaim said. “The people and elected officials of Massachusetts are making clear that the hatred of BDS has no place in their commonwealth.”

In recent years, BDS groups have targeted, harassed, and, in certain cases, physically assaulted those who support Israel or are Americans of Israeli descent, creating an unprecedented climate of intimidation and discrimination, particularly on college campuses. A wave of anti-Semitic rhetoric and anti-Israeli discriminatory activity across the country has caused significant concern among lawmakers, leading to the passage of similar efforts in California and New York in 2016.   

“This legislation will send a powerful message that the hateful and discriminatory environment fostered by BDS has no place in Massachusetts,” Evenhaim said. “Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize the discrimination and hate perpetuated by the BDS Movement.”

Last month, Sen. Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) filed SD.922, “An Act Prohibiting Discrimination in State Contracts,” alongside a similar bill, HD 779, which was filed by Rep. Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham) and Rep. Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk). Sen. Creem’s district encompasses the headquarters for IAC Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is home to more than 32,000 Israeli-Americans, many of whom work in the high-tech industry.

In advocating for this legislation, the IAC for Action will highlight the strong academic and business relationships between Israel and Massachusetts.

“Massachusetts and Israel work closely together in wide-ranging ways that benefit both states and all of humanity. Our two states’ academic collaboration—between some of the best universities in the world—is driving life-saving cures and game-changing research. We share a vibrant tech eco-system that brings together leading companies and innovators in both states,” said Robert Mayer, a member of the IAC for Action in Boston. “Those who participate in the BDS movement are not only acting against America’s values and longstanding interests in the Middle East, they also threaten the long-term economic health of our Commonwealth.”