The New Jersey State Assembly overwhelmingly passed anti-Boycott legislation (A-925) in a bipartisan vote (69-3) on June 27, 2016. The legislation prohibits investment of pension and annuity funds by the state in companies that boycott Israel or Israeli business. The Senate passed the similar bill (S-1923) in a bipartisan vote (39-0) on May 10.
Avi Posnick, Northeast Managing Director of StandWithUs – which has long been involved in educating key leaders about the issues relating to anti-boycott legislation stated, “This bill ensures the State of New Jersey will not support those that participate in campaigns fueled by intolerance and anti-Semitism – like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. New Jersey legislators took a clear stand against the bigotry and discrimination of BDS, which singles out only Israel. SWU looks forward to this legislation being signed by Governor Christie and to welcome NJ into the panoply of states passing similar legislation including Illinois, South Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, and Iowa. It is a tremendous milestone for the relationship between the state of New Jersey and the nation of Israel ”
A925 does not raise any 1st Amendment concerns because it does not in any way regulate, penalize, or infringe on anyone’s private speech or conduct. Private parties who wish to boycott Israel can continue to do so freely. A925 reinforces New Jersey’s economic interests, public policy and the basic ethical standards of government.
Posnick provided testimony to the Senate committee before the vote on May 10.
His statement, below, emphasized the devastating economic impact to New Jersey’s citizens and businesses of boycotting Israel. New Jersey enjoys hundreds of millions of dollars in annual economic trade with Israeli entities, in addition to business done with many other partners who have commercial interests in Israel. This trade encompasses many of the state’s most important economic sectors, such as defense, technology research and development, and health sciences. He expressed that legislators need to send a strong message that the state will not tolerate attempts to weaken its ability to conduct trade with Israel or any other country.
StandWithUs commends Assembly members Vainieri Huttle, Gary Schaer, Nancy Pinkin, Chris Brown, Raj Mukherji, Pamela Lampitt and Vincent Mazzeo Huttle, as the primary sponsors of A925. SWU also commends Senate members James Beach and Loretta Weinberg who were the primary sponsors of S-1923.
The legislation is the result of many community organizations providing grassroots support. Posnick praised the Association of New Jersey Jewish Federations Association for “their vision, leadership and partnership that led to this crucial moment.”