The Israeli-American Coalition for Action mobilized more than 80 community members to speak at initial hearing on legislation.

BOSTON —Today, more than 80 Israeli-American community members, organized by the Israeli-American Coalition for Action (IAC for Action), spoke in the Massachusetts State Legislature in support of a new bill that will ensure taxpayer money does not fund discriminatory economic boycotts of Israel.  

“The Israeli-American community is coming together in Boston, and all across Massachusetts, like never before, to engage in advocacy opposing the BDS movement,” said IAC for Action Chairman Shawn Evenhaim. “We are grateful that a range of key stakeholders and elected officials in Massachusetts are building a coalition with the Israeli-American community to make clear that the hatred fueled by BDS has no place in their commonwealth.”

The legislation states that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts may not contract with companies that engage in discriminatory activity in furtherance of a boycott against a sovereign nation. The legislation is modeled on a 2016 California law; the effort to pass the California bill was also spearheaded by the IAC for Action.

In January, Sen. Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) filed S.1689, “An Act Prohibiting Discrimination in State Contracts,” alongside a similar bill, H.1685, 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.

“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,” said Robert Mayer, the Chair of the IAC for Action Government Relations Committee in Massachusetts. “As an Israeli-American, as a Jewish American, as a longtime Massachusetts resident, I should not be forced to subsidize the discrimination and hate perpetuated by the BDS Movement.”

Despite the efforts of the BDS Movement, collaboration between Israel and the United States is at an all-time high. Figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce show that trade between Israel and America has increased by nearly 40 percent since the present BDS campaign was launched in 2005. According to a recent study by the New England-Israel Business Council, Israeli-founded companies in Massachusetts booked $9.3 billion in revenue in the state in 2015, resulting in an economic impact of $18.1 billion.

The revenue resulting from Israeli-founded companies now represents 4 percent of the state’s GDP. These companies employed nearly 9,000 workers in 2015. Adding in the same multiplier effect based on their demand for local goods and services, they supported over 27,100 jobs in 2015.

“Those who support the BDS movement want to discriminate against businesses, organizations, and institutions for associating with a key ally of the United States, Israel, and frequently demonize Americans with Israeli or Jewish heritage,” said Dillon Hosier National Director of State Government Affairs at the Israeli-American Coalition for Action. “This legislation will send a powerful message that the hateful and discriminatory environment fostered by BDS has no place in Massachusetts.”

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 similar measures in California and New York in 2016.