Governor signs Anti-BDS bill

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

AB 2844 prohibits California contracts with firms illegally discriminating against Israel and other sovereign nations

SACRAMENTO— California contracts of $100,000 or more will need to abide by the Unruh Civil Rights Act and California Fair Employment and Housing Act and not practice any violation of those policies against a sovereign nation or people, including Israel, under AB 2844 signed recently by the Governor.

AB 2844 was authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica). The bill was managed in the Senate by its principal co-author, state Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego), who also serves as chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus.

Block stated that “AB 2844 was carefully crafted in order to avoid First Amendment conflicts. That said, the bill seeks to ensure that those wishing to do business with California are not using First Amendment arguments as a pretext to practice illegal discrimination in the form of boycotts.”

In leading the support for AB 2844 on the Senate floor, Block said Bloom’s bill was the year’s top priority for the Jewish Caucus.

In his presentation Block argued that, “The Boycott movement’s targeting the State of Israel for alleged human rights violations (known as BDS) begs the question, ‘Why target the only Jewish state in the world and no other country?’ No nation is perfect, but certainly any violations of human rights by Israel pale in comparison to those committed by China, or Russia, or Saudi Arabia or countless other sovereign nations. Yet only the Jewish state is being targeted. Could the same anti-Semitic motivation that drove the Nazi boycott of Jewish merchants from 1933-1945 or the Arab League boycott of Israel from 1951-1994 which sought to ‘drive the Jews into the sea’ be motivating those behind BDS? Is the current BDS movement merely an attempt to resurrect the age-old boycotts of Jewish merchants, rooted in virulent anti-Semitism, this time masked as First Amendment-protected political speech? These are critical questions that demand answers.”

AB 2844 empowers California to ask these questions.

“The governor reaffirmed California’s tradition of fairness and equity in signing AB 2844, and we thank him and applaud his action on the bill,” Block said.