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Gov. Scott Supports Israel with Controversial Law

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Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill into law March 10 that prohibits the state of Florida from investing in companies that boycott Israel.

This law, Senate bill, SB 86, offers support to Israel during the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.  The BDS Movement is a global campaign against Israel to force the country to comply with international law and Palestinian rights, according to the mission statement on the BDS Movement website.

Palestinians called for the BDS movement in 2005. With this movement, they’re urging people to boycott institutions that are profiting from Israeli occupation in Palestine, said Tesneem Shraiteh, president of UF Students for Justice in Palestine and part of the BDS Movement.

But Scott is fighting against the movement.

“The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement is fueled by anti-Semitism, and has no place in Florida or any part of the world that values freedom and democracy,” Scott said in a press release. “The state of Florida stands firm with our ally Israel and will not support those that participate in this intolerant movement.”

Berl Goldman, a rabbi at the University of Florida’s Jewish Center, said he is proud and happy that the state’s government supports Israelis.

“We believe that any normal, good and righteous person would come to the same conclusion that the governor did,” Goldman said.

But Shraiteh said she thinks the bill stifles free speech.

“SB 86 is unconstitutional,” she said. 

Boycotting is nothing new in America, she said, and it can be a peaceful way to foment change.

“(The proposed bill is) punishing any entity that wants to stand up for Palestinian rights,” Shraiteh said.

Tamir Sorek, a UF sociology associate professor,

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill into law which forbids the state from investing in companies which boycott Israel. Opponents of the bill  say it is an attack on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, which seeks justice for the Palestinians. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons/Flickr)
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill into law which forbids the state from investing in companies which boycott Israel. Opponents of the bill say it is an attack on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, which seeks justice for the Palestinians. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons/Flickr)

said Florida should avoid legislation like SB 86.

“The state should not infringe on the human rights of the Palestinians,” Sorek said.

He said Floridians should be involved in the businesses they want.

“If anything, this is a reactionary approach from different state senators to the progress of the BDS Movement,” Shraiteh said.

“The BDS Movement will continue to gain momentum,” she said. “It doesn’t make people want to stop organizing around this issue. It makes them want to fight harder.”

About Claire Campbell

Claire is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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  • Not pro Israel

    First Amendment
    The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices. It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.