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 the Senate.
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). “As elected officials, we have to take a stand against efforts to create division and remain active in showing our support for inclusiveness, tolerance and acceptance. The campaign is a shameful attempt to damage Israel and harm its residents. With this resolution, the Senate spoke in one voice to condemn this effort.”
Sponsored by Senator Jim Beach and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, 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.
“Our state has a strong and established relationship with Israel and a common bond that is rooted in shared democratic values,” said Senator Beach (D-Camden). “The effort to boycott Israeli goods, products and businesses as a way to harm the state is reprehensible. We have to send a strong message that we condemn this effort and banning investments in companies that participate in these punitive activities will do that. It will also demonstrate our commitment to maintaining the strong relationship that has existed between New Jersey and Israel for years.”
“In New Jersey, we are committed to supporting Israel and maintaining our strong economic, cultural and political ties,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “The campaign targeting Israel and its economy is deeply concerning. Prohibiting the investment of public employee retirement funds in companies that are part of this effort is the right thing to do. It is reflective of our commitment to Israel and our belief that its people deserve to live in peace and stability.”
The Senate approved the bills by a vote of 31-0 for SJR-81 and 30-0 for S-3044.