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Senate Committee Moves Against Arab Boycott Actions in the U.S.

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The Senate Banking and Currency Subcommittee on International Finance has approved legislation that would bring into immediate public knowledge attempts by Arab governments to cause American firms to comply with the Arab boycott. The measure was sent by the 10-member subcommittee headed by Sen. Adlai Stevenson (D.Ill.) to its parent committee for approval and to forward it to the Senate for passage. The House has not yet drafted similar legislation.

The subcommittee’s action Friday marked the first concrete legislative step towards exposing attempts by Arab governments to discriminate against American concerns that do business with Israel or which are Jewish-owned or have Jews in managerial positions. Extensive hearings have been held in both branches of Congress since early last winter when Arab governments intensified their boycotting.

INCREASE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS

Under the legislation introduced in the sub-committee by Stevenson and Sen. Harrison Williams (D.NJ), penalties that may be imposed on American companies that violate the anti-boycott regulations are increased from $1000 to $10,000. The new Senate legislation would require the Commerce Department to make the company reports public and American firms would have to indicate if they intend to comply with the Arab boycotting nation’s demands.

It also would make it illegal for an American company to disclose to a boycotting state any information regarding the race, religion or origin of an employee, director, shareholder or officer and, in addition, would make it illegal for a company to provide such information to any other American firm. Another section of the proposed laws would make it illegal for an American company to do business with another American firm pursuant to requirements of the boycotting state.

The present laws call on companies that are requested by Arab governments to supply discriminatory information merely to file notice of the request with the Department of Commerce where the notices are kept secret. The Commerce Department has refused to make the names of the companies available to a House subcommittee headed by Rep. John Moss (D. Calif.)

This issue has yet to be resolved, but it is understood that the Commerce Department is prepared to go along with Congressional legislation that will put the Department in a position where it will do only what the law requires in exposing the demands made on Americans by Arab governments.

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