Pro-Palestine and free speech advocacy groups are concerned that legislation to prohibit restrictive trade practices against Israel will have a chilling effect on businesses and advocacy groups that want to divest from Israeli investments over what they see as the Jewish state’s continued occupation and colonization of Palestine.
The legislation, proposed by Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has 45 co-sponsors in the Senate and is a legislative priority for the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. The proposal would amend two laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, to make it be U.S. policy to oppose “restrictive trade practices or boycotts fostered or imposed by an international governmental organization, or requests to impose such practices or boycotts, against Israel.” It also states that “U.S. persons engaged in interstate or foreign commerce” would be prohibited from doing so.
The proposal also would insert language into the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945 which would make it consider “actions that are politically motivated” against Israel when determining if a company will receive credit from the bank.
Josh Ruebner, policy director at the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, called the bill “unconstitutional on its face.”