In 2017, Illinois lawmakers introduced HB 4015, which would prohibit the state from contracting with companies unless they declare that they are not boycotting Israel. The bill failed to pass.
Read the bill: HB 4015
In 2015, Illinois became the first state to enact anti-BDS legislation. This law requires the creation of a state-run blacklist of foreign companies that boycott Israel and compels the state’s pension fund to divest from those companies. Find out more here.
In 2014, the Illinois Senate responded to a the American Studies Association’s (ASA) decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions by considered a bill that would deny university funding to academic association that has expressed support for academic boycotts.
The legislature also considered and rejected a resolution calling on university presidents to condemn the academic boycott.
Read the resolution: SJR 59.
In 2015, Cook County, Illinois, passed a resolution calling on the county pension fund to divest from companies that engage in boycotts for Palestinian rights.
Read the resolution: 15-4701.
In 2015, the Chicago City Council also adopted a resolution urging the Municipal Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago to divest from companies that engage in boycotts for Palestinian rights.
Read the resolution: R2015-569.
These bills are the result of a campaign to suppress Palestine human rights activism in the U.S. Israel's interest in restricting this activism should not override our constitutional right to advocate for change.
The good news is that your right to engage in boycotts related to Israeli human rights abuses and to advocate for BDS is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. None of the bills and resolutions described here prohibit you from engaging in BDS activities.
Whatever your views on Israel and Palestine, these bills should be of concern because they threaten the rights of everyone in the U.S. to take collective action to address injustice. Moreover, we should all be alarmed that a foreign government, Israel, is lobbying U.S. politicians to restrict our rights.