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Santa Monica Lawmaker's Bill Against Israel Boycotts Passes
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By Lookout Staff

September 1, 2016 -- The California Legislature Tuesday passed a bill by a Santa Monica lawmaker to prohibit any state public agency from doing business with contractors involved in a controversial boycott of Israel.

AB 2844, authored by State Representative Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), bars any state agency from entering into a contract with a company participating in the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (or BDS) movement against Israel, Bloom said ("Santa Monica Assemblyman Proposes Own Bill Against Anti-Israel Boycott," April 5, 2016).

"The action today by the Legislature sends another strong message that California does not tolerate discrimination, hate, or bigotry," Bloom said.

Bloom’s bill is meant to stop the state from doing business with companies involved in the anti-Israel BDS effort. The movement started around 2004 over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is trying to go global.

He said the "ultimate goal" of the BDS movement "is to convince California companies to not do business with Israel and thereby undermine the economy and government of Israel and replace the world's only Jewish homeland and the only functioning democracy in the Middle East, with a single Palestinian State."

In a state with Israel as its 18th-largest export partner, and the California Legislature’s voice is especially crucial, Bloom said.

“This bill helps puts an end to that movement here in California,” said Bloom, whose 50th District is home to one of California’s largest Jewish populations.

AB 2844 requires companies bidding on a state contract to self-certify that they have a non-discrimination policy compliant with the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing and Employment Act (FEHA).

The two landmark civil rights laws prohibit discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation, age, and a number of other categories.

A company that wants to do business with the state also cannot have a policy against “any sovereign nation or peoples recognized by the government of the United States, including, but not limited to, the nation and people of Israel,” the legislation says.

Groups supporting the bill included the American Jewish Committee, Jewish Public Affairs Council, Israeli-American Nexus, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Adugath Israel of California, and 30 Years After.

AB 2844 now heads to the Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, where action is required by the end of this month.

Bloom is also a member of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus.

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