NEW YORK- A bipartisan group of thirteen Members of Congress has sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce, urging the shutdown of anti-Israel divestment campaigns, because they violate U.S. laws regarding the Arab boycott of Israel.
The letter was initiated by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). It was led by U.S. Representatives Jim Saxton (R-NJ) and Rob Andrews (D-NJ), and also signed by Representatives Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Michael McNulty (D-NY), Peter King (R-NY), Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Martin Frost (D-TX), Philip Crane (R-IL), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO).
The letter, which was sent to the Commerce Department’s Office of Anti-boycott Compliance, noted that by urging Americans to divest their holdings in companies doing business with Israel, the divestment organizers are illegally “furnishing information about U.S. companies that have business relationships in or with Israel, and specifically advocate that these companies be boycotted.” Such actions are “expressly prohibited by the anti-boycott provisions of the Export Administration Act, which were enacted in response to congressional concerns about the Arab boycott of Israel.”
The Congressional letter noted that divestment supporters are actively promoting the boycott of Israel on the internet and have launched divestment campaigns on more than thirty college campuses, including the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The divestment campaign “poses serious economic consequences for our country,” the letter pointed out, noting that according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Arab boycott of Israel is a “substantive impediment” to U.S. trade and investment. “The financial future of U.S. companies and the status of our country’s international trade are at stake.”
The Congressmembers urged the Office of Anti-boycott Compliance to “investigate the national boycott campaign against Israel, shut down the illegal divestment campaigns, and impose the appropriate penalties.”
The letter added that the issue is “urgent” because a national student divestment conference is scheduled to be held at Duke University on October 15, 2004.
Susan B. Tuchman, director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, which has been active on this issue, said: “These thirteen Members of Congress are to be commended for their forthright and principled stand against the divestment proponents, who are violating U.S. law by illegally promoting economic warfare against America’s ally, Israel.”