February 16th, 2017
Legislation to counter anti-Israel BDS movement likely will be revised to address First Amendment concerns
By MORDECAI SPECKTOR
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Israeli-Palestinian conflict came before Minnesota legislators again, Tuesday, Feb. 14, when the Senate’s State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee heard discussion on SF247, which first appeared as the “No Boycott of Israel” bill.
The measure has been recast as an anti-discrimination measure in respect to Israel. It would require that the State of Minnesota “not enter into a contract with a vendor that engages in discrimination against Israel.” It would apply to any state contract with a value of $1,000.00 and more.
The bill’s original draft referred to “persons or entities doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories.” The phrase “Israeli-controlled territories” has been stripped from the proposal.
The state House companion bill, HF400, was heard Feb. 7 before the Government Operations and Election Policy Committee (Editorial, “Minnesota Legislature debates Israel,” 2-10-17 AJW). Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, is the House author; Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, is lead author of the Senate version of the bill.
At Tuesday’s committee meeting in the new Senate Office Building, Limmer introduced the bill. He was accompanied by Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, a co-author of the bill.
Sixteen states have passed legislation similar to SF247, according to Limmer, who added that 12 other states across the country are considering anti-BDS proposals.
Ethan Roberts, director of the Twin Cities Jewish Community Government Affairs Program, testified briefly in support of the bill. The measure is meant to counter the BDS movement — the acronym stands for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
“The goal of the BDS movement is nothing less than the destruction of the State of Israel,” said Roberts, who added that proponents of the legislation were conferring with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota, and trying to address the group’s concerns that the proposal infringes on free speech. Keep reading →