In 2017, the Pennsylvania legislature introduced two bills opposing boycotts for Palestinian rights. HB 1968 would have called for the state to divest from companies that boycott Israel. HB 1969 would have extended the state’s existing anti-boycott law to prohibit the state from contracting with companies that boycott or divestment from Israel. Neither bill passed.
On Friday, November 4, 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed HB 2107 into law. HB 2107 prohibits the state from contracting with companies, organizations, and other entities for supplies, services, or construction unless the company certifies that it is not engaged in a boycott based on race, religion, gender, national affiliation, or national origin, and that it will not engage in such a boycott for the duration of the contract.
Because BDS campaigns are not motivated by discrimination based on an enumerated class, but rather are a protest of Israeli government policies and violations of international law, we believe that this bill does not actually affect BDS supporters. See below for more information about HB 2107.
Three additional anti-BDS bills remain inactive in the Pennsylvania state legislature.
HB 1018 would prohibit state funding of any college/university that boycotts Israel
HB 1986 would blacklist individuals, organizations, and companies engaged in "politically motivated" boycotts of Israel, and would prohibit the state of Pennsylvania from contracting with blacklisted entities.
HB 1987 would require the state pension funds to divest from companies that boycott Israel.
Find out more about HB 2107
Press Release by the Pennsylvania Right to Boycott Coalition, Oct. 26, 2016
Call Governor Wolf -- Urge him to Veto HB 2107, via Jewish Voice for Peace
Share this legal letter from Palestine Legal, Center for Constitutional Rights, and Palestine Legal against HB 2107
In 2014, the Pennsylvania Senate considered and rejected a resolution that would have condemned the Academic Studies Association's decision to implement an academic boycott against Israel.
Read the resolution: SR 279.
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.