U.S. Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, along with a cadre of their colleagues, have reintroduced the Combating Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Act. The legislation aims to fortify the economic standing of Israel against the BDS movement, a global campaign seeking to delegitimize the Jewish state through economic measures.
The BDS movement has been widely criticized for inflicting economic harm on Israel and jeopardizing its commercial engagements. The Combating BDS Act of 2023 is designed to enhance protections for U.S. state and local governments that divest from or restrict contracting with entities engaging in BDS activity against Israel, including businesses operating in Israel or Israeli-controlled territories.
As part of the renewed push against BDS, Senator Rick Scott, who led a similar initiative as Governor, described the BDS movement as "hateful" and "disgusting." The Florida senator further claimed the campaign fuels antisemitism and is unacceptably prevalent within the U.S.
“The anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement is hateful, disgusting and fuels anti-Semitism – it has no place in our nation. I was proud to lead an effort as Governor to show the world that Florida will not do business with those that boycott Israel. This good bill will continue that work by ensuring state and local governments have full authority to cancel or deny funding to organizations that support the BDS movement. I will always stand with our Jewish community and fight the BDS movement and anti-Semitism wherever it is found," stated Sen. Scott.
The reintroduced bill, initially proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R, aims to empower local governments to withdraw or refuse funding to organizations supporting the BDS movement. The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mike Braun (R-IN), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Steve Daines (R-MT).
Rubio called the BDS movement "the single most destructive campaign of economic warfare against the Jewish state of Israel." He asserted that amidst a surge of antisemitism, the U.S. must maintain robust solidarity with its principal democratic ally in the Middle East. The senator anticipates that the successful passage of the bill, as was the case in the Senate previously, would contribute significantly to curtailing the BDS movement's alleged discriminatory activities.
Senator Cassidy echoed these sentiments, underscoring that the BDS movement is steeped in antisemitism and hostility towards Israel. The Louisiana senator stressed the importance of enabling state and local governments to resist attempts aimed at eradicating Israel.
Furthermore, Senator Hagerty branded the BDS movement as "antisemitic" and detrimental to the legitimacy of Israel, the U.S.'s foremost ally in the Middle East. He expressed hope that the Combating BDS Act of 2023 would equip U.S. state and local governments with the necessary tools to counter the BDS movement's discriminatory and hate-filled conduct.
As this bill makes its way through the legislative process, the discourse surrounding the BDS movement and its impact on U.S.-Israel relations is set to intensify. This reintroduction comes as a strong statement of support for Israel from the U.S. Senate, emphasizing its stance against the BDS movement and antisemitism.