WASHINGTON — The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation Thursday night that aims to deter corporate entities from partaking in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
The bill makes Georgia the sixth state in recent months — along with South Carolina, Illinois, Florida, Arizona and Colorado — to advance an anti-BDS measure through its legislature prohibiting state procurement with companies that engage political boycotts of the Jewish state.
Georgia Sen. Judson Hill, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement that the legislation is “a critical step forward in defending Georgia’s state economy and public policy” and referred to it as “taking a stand against the anti-Semitism and discrimination of the BDS movement.”
It will now go to the office of Gov. Nathan Deal, who must decide whether to sign it into law.
The bill was applauded by pro-Israel organizations, including the Israel Alliance Foundation and The Israel Project, which lobbied on its behalf.
The bill’s passage sends a message that “singling out Israel is not a productive means to promote peace,” Jacob Millner, The Israel’s Project’s senior policy analyst who specializes on state-level anti-BDS legislation, told The Times of Israel.
By vowing to not do business with companies that boycott Israel, the state rebuffs efforts to damage the Jewish state’s economy and undermine a mutually beneficial relationship between the US and Israel, he said.
Tactically, such measures are designed to have a “prophylactic effect,” according to Joseph Sabag, deputy director of the Israel Allies Foundation, who also lobbied for the bill.
“Laws like these are essentially designed to regulate the state procurement process in such a way that entities wanting to contract with the state have to certify that they are not participating in BDS, which we explain as being a form of national origin discrimination,” he said. “It affirms that the state does not want to find itself contractually doing business with an entity that is undermining the state’s public policy protections from discrimination.”
Sabag also stressed the state’s own economic interest in passing such measures, citing Georgia’s trade relationship with Israel.
In 2014, for instance, Georgia exported roughly $251 million in goods to Israel, according to the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Southeast Division.