WASHINGTON (Jul. 9)
Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D.NY) warned today that the Arab boycott of American firms having Jewish or Israeli connections could have a “multiplier effect” spreading discrimination throughout American business. She testified this morning before the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on monopolies and commercial law which is holding hearings on legislation to counter the Arab boycott in the U.S.
Ms. Holtzman noted that “in recent months we have heard many reports of Arab economic black mail aimed at American firms which trade with Israel or are owned by or employ Jews. The Arab nations and businesses have not only directly refused to deal with such firms but they have sought to force other American firms to discriminate against them as well.” She added: “That they attempt to coerce others in this country to adopt those practices is dangerous and intolerable.”
Rep. Holtzman, a member of the Judiciary Committee, spoke in favor of HR-5246, a bill that would provide stiff criminal and civil penalties for companies which use economic means to coerce others to discriminate against Americans because of religion, race, sex, national origin or lawful support for, or trade with, another country. The bill is co-sponsored by Rep, Peter W. Rodino (D.NJ), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who presided at the subcommittee hearing. It is supported by 86 other members of Congress.
IMPLICATIONS ARE ENORMOUS
Rep. Holtzman said “The implications of such economic coercion are enormous, posing a great and increasing threat to our nation” because “a small number of Arab firms can, through economic to pressure, influence a much larger number of American companies to participate in discriminatory practices. Thus, a multiplier effect is created which could spread discrimination throughout American business, and as their economic influence grows, the Arabs are likely to have a much greater influence on American business than ever before through foreign trade and through increased investment in domestic corporations.”
The legislation under consideration would also penalize any company that cooperates with or participates in an illegal boycott. That provision is especially important because it would furnish American firms with a legal basis to resist discriminatory Arab economic pressure and deny competitive advantage to any company that may yield to such pressure.
INTENDED TO PROTECT ALL AMERICANS
Although the bill was designed to counter the immediate threat posed by Arab oil blackmail, its scope is broader and intended to protect all Americans against secondary boycotts engaged in for the purpose of religious, racial or other discrimination, Ms. Holtzman observed that “We cannot allow the Arabs to use naked economic blackmail to coerce Americans into engaging in religious discrimination, and we cannot allow any foreign power to dictate business practices in the United States.”
Other witnesses testifying at today’s hearings included Antonin Scalia, Assistant Attorney General for legal counsel; Tom Kauper, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s anti-trust division; and Stanley Pottinger, Assistant Attorney General in the civil rights division.