WASHINGTON (Jul. 1)
Eighty-seven members of Congress, led by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Peter Rodino (D. NJ), are now sponsoring legislation that would prohibit discriminatory boycotts against American businesses owned by Jews or who do business with Israel.
The bill was introduced by Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman (D.NY) and Rodino as its sponsors. Hearings are to be held beginning July 19 by the House Subcommittee on Monopolies of which Rodino is also chairman. The subcommittee is part of the parent judiciary group. Holtzman will be the lead-off witness.
While numerous exploratory hearings were held in the House and Senate last winter when the Arab governments tightened and extended their boycott against Jewish businessmen or companies doing business with Israel, the forthcoming hearings are the first in the House on specific legislation. A similar bill has been adopted by a Senate subcommittee. It was sponsored by Sen Harrison Williams (D.NJ).
The latest co-sponsor of the Rodino-Holtzman measure is Thomas M. Rees (D. Calif.), who is chairman of the International Trade Investment and Monetary Policy Subcommittee of the House Banking Committee. The Los Angeles Congressman said his committee is undertaking an investigation of alleged pressure by Arab nations on U.S. companies to discriminate against employes or customers of the Jewish faith.
Although the bill was designed to meet the immediate threat posed by Arab oil blackmail, Rees said, its scope is broader and is intended to protect all Americans against secondary boycotts engaged in for purposes of religious, racial or other discrimination. Severe penalties, he said, will be imposed by this legislation, including fines of up to one million dollars and imprisonment of officials up to three years.