No sunshine for BDS: Florida passes latest state bill against boycotts of Israel

By Joshua Sharf, Originally published in JNS

There won’t be any sunshine for boycotters of Israel in the Sunshine State.

In a near-unanimous 112-2 vote, the Florida House of Representatives on Feb. 24 passed “Senate Bill 86: Scrutinized Companies,” legislation designed to prevent Florida from investing in or doing business with companies participating in boycotts of Israel.

If signed into law by Florida Governor Rick Scott, the bill would require the state to maintain a list of “scrutinized companies” participating in boycotts of Israel, or boycotts against companies and individuals doing business in Israel. Even a statement by a company that it planned to participate in such a boycott could be held against the company. The bill also makes no distinction between undisputed Israeli territory and the communities located beyond Israel’s 1967 lines. Florida’s state government would be required to divest from companies on the “scrutinized” list, while municipal governments within the state would also be prohibited from contracting with companies on the list above a threshold amount.

In a growing trend of individual U.S. states taking legislative action against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Tennessee, New York, and Pennsylvania have all passed resolutions condemning BDS, while Illinois, Indiana, and South Carolina have gone even further. Illinois passed a bill that prohibits state pension funds from including in their portfolios companies that participate in the BDS movement. South Carolina passed legislation that bars state agencies from contracting with any business that boycotts others “based on race, color, religion, gender, or national origin.” Most recently, a measure passed unanimously in January by the Indiana House of Representatives requires “the public retirement system to divest from businesses that engage in action or inaction to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel.” The Florida legislation, too, goes beyond condemnation of BDS.

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