TRENTON – Legislation to condemn the effort to damage and delegitimize Israel through boycotts of the state, its businesses or products, and that would prohibit investment of state pension funds in companies that participate in the effort, was approved today by a Senate Committee.
Sponsored by Senator Peter Barnes, the first measure (SJR-81) condemns the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, an effort to boycott Israeli goods, products and businesses and ultimately delegitimize Israel.
“Prejudice against the Jewish people, or any ethnic, religious or racial group has no place in New Jersey or in this country,” said Senator Barnes (D-Middlesex). “We have to be vocal in our opposition to these kinds of movements and active in showing our support for inclusiveness, tolerance and acceptance. The campaign is a disgraceful attempt to damage Israel and harm its residents. As elected officials, we stand together in condemning this effort.”
Sponsored by Senator Jim Beach, the second bill (S-3044) would prohibit the assets of any pension or annuity fund under the jurisdiction of the Division of Investment from being invested in any company that boycotts goods, products or businesses of Israel. Further, it would require the State Investment Council and the Director of the Division of Investment to divest any investment held in violation of the prohibition. The divestment would have to be completed within 18 months following the effective date of the bill. The prohibition would not apply to the activities of any company providing humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people through either a governmental or nongovernmental organization.
“As a state and nation, we have a long-standing relationship with Israel and a common bond that is rooted in the values of freedom, democracy and equal rights,” said Senator Beach (D-Camden). “The effort to boycott Israeli goods, products and businesses as a way to harm the state is unacceptable and further impedes the effort to bring peace to the region. By banning investments in companies that participate in these punitive activities, we will send a strong message that we condemn this effort. We will also demonstrate our commitment to supporting and maintaining the strong relationship that has existed between New Jersey and Israel for years.”
The Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee approved the bills by a vote of 4-0.