Lawler, Gottheimer aim to expand U.S. anti-boycott law to combat BDS efforts

New legislation aims to block U.S. companies and persons from participating in boycotts organized by international governmental organizations

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Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., arrives for the House Financial Services Committee hearing titled "Oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission," in Rayburn Building on Tuesday, April 18, 2023.

Reps. Mike Lawler (R-NY) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) are set to introduce legislation on Friday expanding U.S. anti-boycott laws to block U.S. companies and persons from participating in boycotts of U.S. allies by international governmental organizations, Jewish Insider has learned.

Existing U.S. law bars U.S. companies and individuals from participating in boycotts of countries “friendly to the United States” organized by foreign countries or providing information that could facilitate those boycotts. It also requires them to report to the U.S. government when they are asked to comply with such boycotts. The new legislation will modify the law to encompass boycotts organized by international governmental organizations (IGOs), such as the United Nations and European Union.

Although not specifically mentioned in the bill’s text, Lawler and Gottheimer said in statements that the change comes in response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel.

“I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan piece of legislation aimed at preventing international governmental organizations from discriminating against our allies,” Lawler said. “This has been spurred on by bad actors that have sought to embargo Israel using BDS, which is an absurd and antisemitic policy.”

He explained that the legislation would prevent companies from providing information to support the U.N. and EU’s “BDS blacklists, and discourage any IGO’s from doing the same.”

“This new bipartisan legislation is a key step to counter anti-Israel bias in international organizations like the biased United Nations, which has a deep history of singling out the Jewish state. International governmental organizations should not be alienating Israel — it’s unacceptable,” Gottheimer said. “Here in Congress, both Democrats and Republicans will continue working together to combat antisemitic efforts to isolate, delegitimize, and demonize our historic ally Israel.”

Existing federal law does not bar companies from participating in the BDS movement; it only bans participation in boycotts undertaken to comply with a foreign government’s laws, such as the Arab League’s boycott of Israel.

AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told JI that the group supports the bill “to combat international attempts to isolate and delegitimize America’s ally, Israel.”

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