Anti-Semites are violating federal law by boycotting Israel and Israeli companies and institutions. Activists in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, one of the highest-profile global projects of the left, are subject to criminal and financial penalties, including jail time of five years and fines up to $50,000. A U.S. exporter can lose the right to export any products to any country.
So why isn’t the U.S. Department of Justice enforcing the anti-boycott laws? President Donald Trump should order the Office of Antiboycott Compliance to come out of cryogenic stasis and get back to work, and order DOJ to start enforcing the law.
This month, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced legislation as an amendment to SB 1 to blunt the economic warfare against Israel – “Democrats are split over the addition of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s ‘Combatting BDS Act,’ which seeks to counter the global Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement against Israel over its treatment of Palestinians and the settlements.”
Rubio’s Combatting BDS Act, would affirm the legal authority of state and local governments to restrict contracts and take other actions against contractors that “engaged in BDS conduct.” Several states are facing lawsuits after taking action against contractors who are conducting BDS boycotts of Israel. Enemies of Israel are trying to say the BDS movement is “free speech.” Democrats are blocking Rubio’s bill.
While Rubio’s bill would give more teeth to laws protecting Israel and will clarify some important details of the laws, most people don’t know that there are already laws criminalizing much of the BDS movement. Supporters of Israel and democracy in the Middle East need to re-discover the Anti-Boycott Act.
During the mid-1970s, Islamic countries in the Middle East sought to destroy Israel economically (and in other ways) by leveraging their oil wealth. At the time, oil prices were sky high, the OPEC cartel was at its strongest, and oil supplies were scarce. The environmental and economic policies of Democrats like President Jimmy Carter had brought the United States and Western Europe to their knees. Gasoline rationing and long lines waiting for gas allowed drivers to fill up their cars only on alternate days (odd / even based on their license plate).
The recent BDS movement is a far more sophisticated, upgraded version of the 1970s-era Islamic boycott of Israel. The original boycott movement never really ended. The BDS movement merely dressed up the old boycott with a newer public relations campaign.
In response to the ’70s boycott of Israel, the United States Congress passed two laws to prohibit participation of U.S. citizens or companies in international economic boycotts or embargoes. These were 1977 amendments to the Export Administration Act and the Ribicoff Amendment to the 1976 Tax Reform Act.
The Office of Antiboycott Compliance is “charged with administering and enforcing the Antiboycott Laws under the Export Administration Act. Those laws discourage, and in some circumstances, prohibit U.S. companies from furthering or supporting the boycott of Israel sponsored by the Arab League, and certain other countries, including complying with certain requests for information designed to verify compliance with the boycott.”
U.S. law prohibits “Agreements to refuse or actual refusal to do business with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies.” Part of the enforcement mechanism requires every U.S. company to immediately report to the Office of Antiboycott Compliance any request that the company certify its participation in the anti-Israel boycott.
After passage of the Anti-Boycott laws, the Arab League boycott of Israel faded, but it never officially ended. Enforcement faded as the threat seemed to shrink.
Over the past 13 years, the boycott re-emerged under a new name, message, theme and publicity campaign. The Palestinian BDS National Committee leads and supports the BDS movement for Palestinian rights. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel “advocates for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions for their deep and persistent complicity in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights that are stipulated in international law.”
The campaign website – based inside the United States – explains that “Thousands of organisations and groups are part of the global BDS movement. You can use the tool below to connect with organisations that are main partners of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the broadest coalition of Palestinian networks that leads and supports the BDS movement.” The movement explains, “The BDS movement calls for a boycott of all Israeli products” and calls for individuals to target specific Israeli industries.
The BDS conspiracy has now become a fashionable, virtue-signaling craze among attention-starved celebrities, professors and other academics, left-wing activists who yearn to belong to something, and of course forever-angry Islamic activists and just general, garden-variety anti-Semites. The BDS website claims it is “Palestinian-led” and explains that “BDS is now a vibrant global movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world.”
It might not shock the reader to learn that the American Civil Liberties Union supports the anti-Semitic BDS movement. The ACLU is even suing in support of the anti-Semitic boycott of Israel. The Southern Poverty Law Center is silent about the BDS movement.
President Trump needs to send a team over to the Office of Antiboycott Compliance – maybe a trumpeter who can trumpet “Reveille” and someone with a lot of hot coffee – to see if they can wake up the staff there and get them back to work.