Indiana anti-BDS bill passes state Senate
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Indiana anti-BDS bill passes state Senate

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Indiana Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill banning state dealings with entities that boycott Israel or its settlements.

The bill approved 47-3 on Tuesday, with bipartisan backing, defines “the promotion of activities to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel” as meeting the standard of “extraordinary circumstances” necessary under state law to mandate divestment from a company.

The state House of Representatives passed the measure in January.  Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican who was a pro-Israel leader when he was in the U.S. Congress, is expected to sign the bill into law.

“This will place Indiana among the select vanguard of states that have publicly defended the Jewish State of Israel using proactive legislation,” said a statement Wednesday by the Jewish Affairs Committee of Indiana, which led the lobbying effort for the bill.

The bill includes in its definition “territories controlled by the Jewish State of Israel,” effectively including any bid to boycott settlements in its purview.

It is one of over 20 bills that have passed or are under consideration in state legislatures that would counter the BDS movement; not all include language targeting settlements. The Obama administration has said that while it will continue to oppose efforts to boycott Israel, it will not oppose bids that specifically target settlements.

The businesses defined in the bill include commercial enterprises and nonprofit organizations, which would mean that the bill, once enacted, would apply to universities. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement has focused its efforts on campuses and scholarly associations.

Funds that would be mandated to divest from businesses that boycott Israel include the retirement funds of teachers and public employees.