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,
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.”