Rep. Holtzman Demands Strong Anti-boycott Laws Because Voluntary Compliance Doesn’t Work

Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D.NY) charged today that voluntary compliance with efforts to combat the Arab economic boycott against Israel has not worked and urged that Congress pass laws making it illegal for American firms to comply with boycott requests.

Testifying before the House International Relations Committee on amendments to the Export Administration Act. Holtzman noted the Act now states that the policy of the United States is to oppose boycotts against foreign countries that are friendly to the U.S. “But this non-mandatory ‘policy statement’ and the accompanying Commerce Department regulations have not significantly deterred participation by U.S. firms.” she said. “Instead, we have watched the boycott of Israel expand into a powerful secondary boycott. Now American companies are subject to the boycott if they trade with black-listed firms, and it is rumored, if they employ persons who support Israel,” for example Jews.

Holtzman said that since the non-mandatory policy has not worked. “Congress should enact legislation that prohibits firms from forwarding information about the race, religion, sex or national origin of the firm’s employes, directors and shareholders. Companies should be flatly prohibited from participating in the boycott.”

AJCOMMITTEE OFFICIAL TESTIFIED

Holtzman noted that both New York and Maryland have adopted strong anti-boycott laws and as a result Arab trade reportedly may have moved to ports in other states. “New York should not suffer because it took steps to protect its citizens from discrimination,” she declared. “Rather Congress should act now to establish a national policy against discrimination.”

In testimony before the Committee last week, Lester S. Hyman, a member of the executive board of the Washington chapter of the American Jewish Committee, said the AJCommittee urges enactment of a comprehensive federal law to prohibit American compliance with the boycott. “The Arabs are testing the will of the United States,” he said, “and, if they were to encounter a solid front of legal and moral resistance to their discriminatory restrictions, in all probability they would back down because they badly need what the United States has to offer–weapons, food, technology, educational and medical assistance.”

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