Illinois, latest state to oppose BDS, takes concrete action against boycotters

By Paul Miller, Originally published in JNS.org

Illinois on Monday became the third state in a month to pass legislation formally opposing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. But going further than non-binding anti-BDS measures in Tennessee and Indiana, the Illinois bill took concrete action against those who boycott the Jewish state.

The legislation—which unanimously passed both the Illinois House (102-0) and Senate (49-0), and will be signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner—prohibits state pension funds from including BDS-participating companies in their portfolios.

“Illinois is the first state to take concrete, legally binding action against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, providing a legislative model for the rest of the country,” said Jacob Baime, executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition.

Peggy Shapiro, Midwest director for the Israel education group StandWithUs, told the Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought that Americans “understand what the BDS movement really means.”

“It means bullying, deception, and slander,” Shapiro said. “Americans understand that the real goals of BDS are to isolate, weaken, and ultimately destroy the only Jewish state. They understand and they are saying ‘no’ to undermine a loyal ally and the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Shapiro added that the significance of the Illinois legislation’s unanimous passage “should not be underestimated.”

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