Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, welcomes the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s unanimous passage of bipartisan legislation that would prohibit U.S. companies from participating in boycotts promoted by international organizations that target Israel and other U.S. partners.
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act (H.R. 1697), was a centerpiece issue during the OU Advocacy Center’s Annual Leadership Mission to Washington, D.C. on June 13. OU delegates met with a bipartisan group of U.S. representatives to urge them to support the bill, which now has 287 co-sponsors. They also heard from backers of the U.S. Senate’s version of the bill (S. 720) including Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The legislation was first introduced in March 2017 by Sens. Cardin and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and U.S. Reps. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) in response to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s passage of a resolution urging nations around the world to pressure companies not to do business in or with Israel. The U.N. resolution also calls for the creation of a “blacklist” of companies that operate in, or have business relationships beyond Israel’s 1949 Armistice Lines, including East Jerusalem.
Violators of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act would face criminal penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines of as much as $1 million. The bill is next to be considered by the full House of Representatives.
Said OU President Mark (Moishe) Bane:
“We are very grateful for the hard work and dedication of Sens. Ben Cardin and Rob Portman and Reps. Peter Roskam and Juan Vargas to move the Israel Anti-Boycott Act forward. We will continue to work with our congressional leaders so that this legislation is brought to the entire U.S. House and Senate before the end of the year.”
Said OU Advocacy Center Executive Director Nathan Diament:
“This legislation is significant because it both hinders and highlights the tactics of those involved in the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel industry. We as a nation must stop these malevolent efforts at every turn, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s unanimous vote is a strong and important step in doing so.”