Governor Tom Wolf Signs Anti-BDS Bill Into Law

By Ferne Hassan

governor_tom_wolf_official_portrait_2015Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf scored a double win for his state by signing into law a bill (HB- 2107), which combats the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign on November 4, 2016. Its most significant impact will be on prohibiting any company that seeks to do business with Pennsylvania from engaging in economic warfare with Israel, or any other trading partner with favored nation status. It also defends Pennsylvania’s economic interests against attempts to weaken its ability to conduct trade with Israel.

This bipartisan bill, introduced in the House by Rep. Matthew Baker (R) with 26 co-sponsors from both parties, passed by a vote of 181-9.

“Taking a stand against the BDS movement seems especially appropriate for Pennsylvania, a state which proudly takes the lead against discrimination,” states Joseph Puder, Director, StandWithUs Philadlephia. “I am proud of Pennsylvania’s legislators and governor for opposing the economic warfare which is being waged against Israel and for once again upholding fairness and sound public policy.”

The goal of BDS is the demonization and isolation of Israel. BDS proponents often present their case in terms of justice; however, this masks the real agenda of seeking to destroy Israel rather than improve the lives of Palestinians. The movement falls clearly under the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism as it demonizes, delegitimizes and holds Israel to a double standard, the only Jewish state and the only democracy in the Middle East. This law asserts that Pennsylvania will not be a partner to discrimination and anti-Semitism.

The law also protects Pennsylvania’s economic interests. PA enjoys over $200 million 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. Passage of HB-2107 sends a clear message to the Israeli business community that it is welcome here.

The bill does not violate any First Amendment rights. It exercises the state’s own right to choose the companies with which it will contract. It does not penalize or infringe on anyone’s private speech or conduct. Companies are free to make whatever statements they wish, even stupid or hostile things about Israel; individuals are not impacted at all. The bill simply clarifies that if an entity chooses to engage in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), then the state can exercise its right to not support that entity. Exercising such discretion with taxpayer funds is an important part of reinforcing economic interests, public policy and the basic ethical standards of government.

The U.S. government has also emphatically rejected boycotts based on national origin and interference with foreign trade policy in general. Congress has legislated against boycotts of Israel for four decades, and federal courts have ruled that economic boycotts are not protected free speech.

Pennsylvania joins twelve states that have passed such legislation and are fighting back against bigotry.

Canaries in the Coal Mine: French Jews Face Anti-Semitism

Simone Rodan Benzaquen - Resized and Compressed“The French Jews are the canary in the coal mine,” Simone Rodan-Benzaquen told me. Ms. Benzaquen, the director of the American Jewish Committee in Europe, related that anti-Semitism in Western Europe is a very serious problem. Europe is the laboratory for how to contend with it in 2016. If the fight against anti-Semitism fails in Europe, it will fail in the United States as well.

Anti-Semitism is a crisis for liberal democracies. The members of the extreme left (anti-Zionists), the members of the extreme right, and some parts of the Muslim community have found common cause. They all hate Jews. This crisis starts with the Jews, but it doesn’t end there.

The Centrist parties are not discussing the problems within the Muslim community due to political correctness. The Populist parties are filling the void by asking the right questions. They are addressing the issues of integration, Islamism, and how to make Islam compatible with democratic values.

What can the Centrist parties do? Ms. Benzaquen suggested several solutions. First, they must speak out clearly. They need to call Islamist extremism what it is and identify the sources of the problems.

The educational system offers an opportunity to impact young pupils and shape the future adults of France. During the past several years, students have refused to learn about the Holocaust in certain neighborhoods. Their teachers retreated because they were afraid of being attacked. France needs to invest the resources to train teachers in new methodologies so they can deal with these issues. Holocaust education is important for them because it illustrates how a society can behave and how individuals can choose to behave. It is an opportunity to teach tolerance, and to accept diversity.

France does not recognize individual communities; everyone is French. In order to counter Islamic radicalization, the authorities must reach out to the Muslim community to spot signs of radicalization. It is only then that they can begin to contend with it.

One of the most effective ways that the Islamic radicals influence and recruit young people is with social media. In France, speech is free, within limits. The French government can shut down social media sites due to incitement. The platforms used by these Islamists are based in the United States. Initially, the US-based companies did not feel that they were obligated to comply with French laws. The European Commission passed a law that requires social media companies to follow European laws in order to be available there. This has made it easier for the French authorities to shut down sites dedicated to Islamic radicalization.

The signs in Europe point to a worrisome future in the United States. The Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) movement on university campuses and the expression of anti-Semitism online are creating a hostile environment for Jews. We live in a globalized world. There is no escaping anti-Semitism by moving from country to country. What kind of world do we want?

State Sen. Leach: ASA Israel Boycott Is “Misguided, Irrational”

In a letter to the president of the American Studies Association (ASA), Curtis Marez, Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery County) attacked the boycott of Israeli institutions by the Association.

In the letter, that will be publicly released tomorrow (Tuesday), Leach wrote, “you did not issue a statement criticizing a particular practice of the Jewish State; you singled out Israel for an alleged widespread systematic abuse of human rights.

“Among the countries you have not chosen to boycott are Iran, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan and even North Korea, which apparently just executed a former government official on the day of his ‘trial’ by feeding him to a pack of starved wild dogs.”

Dear Mr. Marez,

As a former college professor and current Pennsylvania State Senator and member of the Senate Education Committee, I was disappointed (although, sadly, not surprised) to learn of the American Studies Association (ASA)’s decision to boycott academic establishments in Israel.

It is my view that this decision is misguided, irrational, and a slap in the face to the very concept of academic freedom.

Letter continues after the jump.
In your statement attempt the justify the academic boycott of Israel, the ASA said: “The Council voted for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions as an ethical stance, a form of material and symbolic action. It represents a principle of solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and an aspiration to enlarge that freedom for all,” and that the boycott is warranted because “Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights.”


Certainly a case could be made that when it comes to human rights, Israel is imperfect. I would note that the same case could be made in regards to the United States, both in the past and currently.

But you did not issue a statement criticizing a particular practice of the Jewish State; you singled out Israel for an alleged widespread systematic abuse of human rights.

To my knowledge, you have call for a boycott of no other nation. This action suggests that Israel is uniquely deficient in its respect for basic rights.

Among the countries you have not chosen to boycott are Iran, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan and even North Korea, which apparently just executed a former government official on the day of his “trial” by feeding him to a pack of starved wild dogs.

Even the Palestinian Authority, which you purport to be fighting for, conducts summary trials and executions and extra-judicial murders by militias of people deemed “collaborators” and has nothing resembling a free press.

Those countries are apparently fine. But you boycott Israel, which:

  • is a democracy;
  • respects the rights of women, who are considered fully equal in Israeli Society;
  • legally recognizes the rights of its gay and lesbian citizens;
  • has an independent judiciary which sometimes strikes down government actions;
  • has the rule of law;
  • has minority voting rights and Arab members of the Knesset; and
  • has a completely free press.

As you may already be aware, more than 100 American universities have taken issue with ASA’s decision, and have themselves decided to reject the boycott. The American Council of Education, the Association of American Universities and the American Association of University Professors have also expressed their opposition.

Further, it has been noted in the media that only approximately 16 percent of the ASA’s 5,000 members actually voted in favor of the boycott. It was troublesome to learn that this decision, which has severe implications, was pushed through with minimal member input and significant public opposition.

Finally, in an examination of your association’s mission statement, is it not a violation of academic freedom and aspiration to target students and professors in a country for reasons beyond their control?

A goal of your organization is to “enlarge [academic] freedom for all”, but does the boycott not actually limit academic freedom, thereby only granting it to some?

I will conclude this letter by reinforcing what was previously expressed to you by Rep. Eliot L. Engel, senior Democratic Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, when he wrote that he encouraged you to review the most recent Country Reports on Human Rights Practices by the State Department.

I would reiterate his statement pointing out that the report says that “there were no government restrictions on academic freedom” apparent in Israel.

ASA Israel Boycott Widely Condemned

Related Article: Is Your Alma Mater Complicit in ASA’s Israel Boycott? Includes universities’ contact information so that you can make your views known.

— by Steve Sheffey

The American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli academic institutions has been condemned by organizations, politicians and public figures from all across the political spectrum.

The American Association of University Professors said in an official letter that it opposes academic boycotts, including the ASA boycott, as violations of academic freedom.

The Anti-Defamation League wrote in a press release, “This shameful, morally bankrupt and intellectually dishonest attack on academic freedom by the [ASA] should be soundly condemned by all who are committed to the ideal that open exchange of ideas is the most effective way to achieve change.”

Targeting Israeli institutions solely because they are in Israel — the only democratic country in the Middle East where scholarship and debate are encouraged and flourish — is based on a myopic and fundamentally distorted perspective of Israel and the conflict and is manifestly unjust.

Comments from Ambassador Oren, Rep. Schneider, JStreet, Peter Beinart and Jeff Goldberg follow the jump.
The former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, wrote in his official Facebook page that the boycott “singles out the world’s only Jewish state, the Middle East’s only democracy, undermines academic freedom, and defies Abu Mazen’s opposition to such boycotts.”

More needs to be said about fighting back. The United States has long imposed strict penalties on companies complying with the Arab boycott of Israel. Similar measures should be enacted denying state and Federal funding for any activities associated with the promoters of this racist anti-democratic measure.

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) tweeted that the “decision by ASA to boycott Israeli academic institutions is misdirected and wrong.”

In its official blog, JStreet wrote that it “strongly opposes the American Studies Association’s decision today to boycott Israeli colleges and universities.”

Unilaterally placing blame on one party, as the ASA boycott does, is an overly simplistic and unhelpful approach to an incredibly complicated and dynamic political situation. And it is one that is not befitting of an academic community.

The Daily Beast columnist, Peter Beinart, wrote that the boycott is “dead wrong,” because it denies “the legitimacy of a democratic Jewish state, even alongside a Palestinian one.”

The Bloomberg columnist, Jeff Goldberg, wrote, “Is it a coincidence that these academics are singling out the world’s only Jewish-majority country for boycott? Only to those who know nothing of the history of anti-Semitic scapegoating.”

Click here to sign up to Steve Sheffey’s newsletter.

Is Your Alma Mater Complicit in ASA’s Israel Boycott?

— by Ronit Treatman

This week, the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to endorse an academic boycott of Israel. A Cornell University professor, William Jacobson, is leading an effort to encourage universities to disassociate themselves from the ASA.

As of this writing, Brandeis University, Penn State University Harrisburg and Willamette University have disassociated themselves with the ASA, and Northwestern University heavily criticized the boycott, but the ASA still has many members.

I have sent an email to the president of Temple University — my alma mater — Neil D. Theobald, inquiring about Temple’s position on this matter. I pointed out that Temple is a member of the ASA, and as such supports it financially.  

Please use the contact information after the jump to contact the president of your university and share your thoughts, and use the link at the end to share a link to this article with your friends and family so that they can do the same.

As alumni, donors, and parents of potential future students, we have the right to know where our schools and their American studies departments stand.

Is the college you attended a member of the ASA? Contact information after the jump.
Remaining Members of the American Studies Association

List current as of publication. Please send updates or corrections.


Alberta: See Canada.



  • California State University, Fullerton
    • Mildred García, Office of the President, 800 N. State College Blvd.,  CP-1000, Fullerton, CA 92834, 657-278-3456, [email protected]  
    • Chair of the Board of Trustees: Bob Linscheid, c/o Trustee Secretariat [email protected], 401 Golden Shore, Suite 620, Long Beach, CA 90802, (562) 951-4020  
    • Chancellor: Timothy P. White, [email protected], Office of Public Affairs, 401 Golden Shore, 6th Floor, Long Beach, CA 90802-4210, Phone: (562) 951-4800, Fax: (562) 951-4861

  • California State University, Long Beach  
    • Donald J. Para, Interim President, California State University, Long Beach, Office of the President, Brotman Hall BH-300, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90840-0115, 562/985-4121, [email protected]  
    • Chair of the Board of Trustees: Bob Linscheid, c/o Trustee Secretariat [email protected], 401 Golden Shore, Suite 620, Long Beach, CA 90802, (562) 951-4020  
    • Chancellor: Timothy P. White, [email protected], Office of Public Affairs, 401 Golden Shore, 6th Floor, Long Beach, CA 90802-4210, Phone: (562) 951-4800, Fax: (562) 951-4861

  • University of California, San Diego  
    • Janet Napolitano, University of California, Office of the President, 1111 Franklin Street, 12th floor, Oakland, CA 94607, Media office: (510) 987-9200, [email protected]  
    • Board of Regents, Office of the Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Regents, 1111 Franklin St.,12th floor, Oakland, CA 94607, fax: (510) 987-9224, [email protected]  
    • Pradeep K. Khosla, Office of the Chancellor, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive # 0005, La Jolla, California 92093-0005, (858) 534-3135, [email protected]  
    • Peter King, Public Affairs Executive Director, Phone: (510) 987-0279  
    • Daniel M. Dooley, External relations – Senior Vice President, Phone: (510) 987-0060  
    • Charles F. Robinson, General Counsel and Vice President – Legal Affairs, Phone: (510) 987-9800

  • Stanford University

  • University of Southern California  
    • C. L. Max Nikias, USC Office of the President, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-4019, Phone: (213) 740-2111, Fax: (213) 821-1342  
    • Chair of the Board of Trustees, Edward P. Roski Jr.   USC Alumni Association, Epstein Family Alumni Center, 3607 Trousdale Parkway, TCC 305, Los Angeles, CA 90089-3106, (213) 740-2300



District of Columbia




  • University of Hawaii  
    • David Lassner, University of Hawaii, Office of the President, 2444 Dole Street, Bachman 202, Honolulu, HI 96822, [email protected], tel (808) 956-8207, fax (808) 956-5286


  • DePaul University
    • Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., Ed.D., Office of the President, 1 East Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604-2287, 312-362-8850, [email protected]  
    • American Studies Department, Allison McCracken, Director, Schmitt Academic Center, 5th floor, Room 560, 2320 N. Kenmore Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614, 773-325-7194, [email protected]
    • Tracy Krahl – Assistant Vice President, Alumni Engagement, Alumni Center, 2400 N. Sheffield Ave., Suite 150, Chicago, IL 60614, 312-362-5577, [email protected]
    • Board of Trustees, Secretary of the University, Edward R. Udovic, C.M., 312-362-8042, Fax: 312-362-6606, [email protected]
    • Chancellor, Rev. John T. Richardson, C.M., 773-325-8712, [email protected]

  • Northwestern University, Contact information needed.









New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina


  • Kenyon College, Contact information needed.
  • Youngstown State University
    • Dr. Randy J. Dunn, President, One University Plaza, Youngstown, Ohio 44555, [email protected], 330.941.3101  
    • Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, Tod Hall, Room 203, Youngstown State University, One University Plaza, Youngstown, Ohio 44555, Phone: (330) 941 3370, Fax: (330) 941 3108
    • Dr. Sylvia J. Imler, Chief Diversity Officer/Interim Director, [email protected]
    • YSU Board of Trustees Chair: Sudershan K. Garg, M.D., Chairman, c/o YSU Office of the President, One University Plaza Youngstown, Ohio 44555, (330) 941-3101


Ontario: See Canada.


Rhode Island






Washington DC: See District of Columbia.

Washington State




United Kingdom

Source: American Quarterly, September 2013, Volume 65, Number 3.


UN Rapporteur’s Call For Boycotts

In a report to the U.N. General Assembly, Falk alleged that such major businesses as Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, Motorola and Volvo have violated international law through perceived complicity in Israeli policies of which he stridently disapproves. These include efforts to protect Israeli communities in Palestinian-claimed territories. Falk “calls on civil society to vigorously pursue initiatives to boycott, divest and sanction” those companies and added that “further investigations… may lead to additional attention” directed at other companies.

“All reasonable people should reject Falk’s newest acts of division and discrimination,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Once again, his aim is to unfairly single out Israel and to undercut both its security and those who are engaged constructively with it. In turn, he poses a threat to progress and to peace.”

More after the jump.
Falk’s latest report follows a history of outrageous statements and actions, including suggestions that the U.S. government may have had involvement in the 9/11 attacks and his posting of an anti-Semitic cartoon on his blog. In recent posts, he has written that “Israeli insistence upon treating Hamas as ‘a terrorist organization’ has blocked a political solution” and that the governing process in the United States is under a “threefold bondage to Wall Street, the Pentagon and Israel.”

“Falk has a track record of baseless, vile attacks on Israel, so his latest attempt to harm and isolate the Jewish state isn’t a surprise,” Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “What is especially disturbing is that he still has a platform to do so. It is disgraceful that he is allowed to present his ‘recommendations’ to the U.N.”

Falk’s biased mandate at the United Nations, and his exploitation of it to malign and delegitimize Israel, remain a tragic but accurate reflection of the Human Rights Council’s record in the Middle East. The council, situated in Geneva, has provided for Falk’s continuing role at the world body.

B’nai B’rith International, the Global Voice of the Jewish Community, is the oldest and most widely known Jewish humanitarian, human rights and advocacy organization.  For 169 years, B’nai B’rith International has worked for Jewish unity, security, continuity and tolerance.  Visit

Britain’s Cooperative Group Embraces The Boycott Against Israel

— By Eric Lee

On 28 April, the fifth largest supermarket chain in Britain, the Co-operative Group, voted to stop trading with Israeli companies that source some of their products from Jewish settlements in the West Bank.  It is the first British supermarket chain to do so.

For those of us who oppose boycotts targetting the Jewish state, it is easy to dismiss this as irrelevant.  After all, it’s not like the Co-op voted to ban all Israeli products.  In fact the Co-op went out of their way to say precisely that.  They’re not boycotting Israel, they said.  They’re just boycotting “companies that profit from the occupation”.

More after the jump.
The decision comes despite the Co-op’s already having taken care of the problem last year.  According to their “Human rights and trade policy” report from 2011, “Significant time and resource is dedicated to safeguarding our Policy.  For example, to ensure that none of our produce originates from the illegal Israeli settlements, we use a robust policing system of grower codes, map grid references and spot check audits on our complete supply chain. In this way we can guarantee that none of our produce comes from these settlements.”

Despite that guarantee, the Co-op felt it had to go one step further. Apparently, it was not enough to guarantee that no produce from the Jewish settlements.  They’ve gone one step further.

Before dismissing the Co-op’s decision as being no big deal, it’s worth having a look at what supporters of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the UK are saying.

The London-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), which supports a “one-state solution” which would effectively destroy Israel, is ecstatic about the Co-op decision.  “Fantastic news!” they declare on their website.  “This important development … shows yet again the growing movement for solidarity with Palestine is having a concrete impact.”  They are certain that other supermarkets will follow the Co-op lead.  And they encourage all their supporters to now sign up as members of the Co-op to show their support for the boycott decision.

In the eyes of the PSC, this is a massive win.  They’ve managed to extend the boycott of settlement goods to include produce grown inside of Israel proper.  And they’ve done this by tainting Israeli agricultural export companies as bodies which “profit from the occupation”.

This new concept allows one to call for boycotts of all kinds of Israeli companies and institutions not directly linked to the settlements.  In doing so, the boycotters are deliberately blurring the distinction between West Bank settlements and the rest of Israel. Theirs is a patient, one-step-at-a-time campaign aiming towards a complete boycott of the Jewish state.

The Guardian, a newspaper notoriously hostile to Israel, once again made no attempt at objectivity in its coverage.  Referring to the pro-Hamas PSC as “Palestinian human rights campaigners”, they noted that this was “the first time a supermarket anywhere in the west had taken such a position”.

After quoting from several supporters of the boycott (but no one from the Jewish community in Britain), they concluded their account with a sneering reference to official Israeli policy.   “Boycott campaigns against Israel are routinely denounced by Israeli officials as part of a drive to ‘delegitimise’ the Jewish state,” they wrote.

Routinely denounced.  Delegitimise —  in quotes.

British Jews are deeply worried by this development, saying that “the Co-op has not fully understood the Jewish community’s serious concerns with an ever-increasing slippery-slope boycott policy.”

They should not be alone in making this argument.  They need allies in Britain, elsewhere in Europe and around the globe.

One can oppose the policies of the Netanyahu-Mofaz government including opposing the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

But to go from there to supporting a boycott of Israeli companies that may have “profited from the occupation” is a step too far.

The PSC’s strategy is absolutely clear and they’re not hiding it. They are taking this one step at a time.

First, persuade groups like the Co-op to boycott settlement goods. Few on the Left would speak out against that.

Second, ban goods from companies which source some of their products from the settlements.  Again, very few voices would be heard against that either.

The next step is to ban all Israeli products on the basis that the Israeli economy and society “profit from the occupation”.

British Jews are feeling very worried about these developments.

One might think that this sort of thing can’t happen in America.  But it can.  The same logic – first ban settlement goods, then ban goods from those who “profit from the occupation” may well resonate in the US as well.

But if it can be shown that the concept of “those who profit from the occupation” is actually a code word for Israelis (or even Jews), we can turn this around.

The pro-Hamas “Palestinian human rights campaigners” may have gone a step too far.

This is a fight that we can win.

The Anti-Israel Movement: BDS On Campus

This weekend, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, a conference will be held. The gathering, which the University is hosting, has been arranged by a group which is identified by the acronym BDS. BDS refers to the movement dedicated to punishing, vilifying and delegitimizing the State of Israel in three ways.

  • First, this group encourages “B”, boycotting Israeli products.
  • Second, the group advocates “D”, divesting from companies which do business in and with Israel.
  • And third is “S”, the efforts to convince governments around the world to impose sanctions against Israel.

[Read more…]

B’nai Brith Condemns Desmond Tutu’s Israeli Boycott Efforts

— Sharon Bender

B’nai B’rith International is deeply disappointed at retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s effort to encourage a cultural boycott of Israel. Tutu urged the Cape Town Opera to cancel a tour of Israel scheduled for November, condemning what he described in a statement as “discrimination” in Israel.

Tutu also said Israel makes a “fallacious claim to being a ‘civilized democracy.'”

“It is unfortunate that Desmond Tutu is ill-informed and misled about Israel,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Following his recent call for an academic boycott of Israel, he is working hard to delegitimize the Jewish state.”

More after the jump.
This troubling campaign demonizes Israel and undermines peace efforts.

It is disturbing that Tutu fails to note that Israel is the most open and welcoming nation in the Middle East; a democracy where Israeli Arabs have full voting rights. Israel provides access in its capital to all religions to worship at holy sites.

In condemning Israel, Tutu ignores reality: Israel has pressed for peace with the Palestinians over and over, only to be met with excuses and stall tactics, as well as rockets, mortars, and savage terrorist attacks.  Tutu’s failure to condemn the terror group that calls for Israel’s destruction, Hamas, is curious.

“His claim to being an advocate for peace is once again being brought into question. He should focus on engagement, rather than efforts to delegitimize one of the parties to the process,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “He should use his microphone to promote peace, not restrictions.”

B’nai B’rith commends the Cape Town Opera’s decision to reject the boycott calls and travel to Israel to perform as planned.

B’nai B’rith International, the Global Voice of the Jewish Community, is the oldest and most widely known Jewish humanitarian, human rights, and advocacy organization.  For 167 years, BBI has worked for Jewish unity, security, continuity, and tolerance.