U.S. Rep Brendan Boyle, and his brother, State Rep. Kevin Boyle, are separately introducing bills before their respective legislative bodies that will prevent government investments in companies directly or indirectly supportive of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
As U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) and his brother, State Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-172), have seen firsthand, you don’t have to be Jewish to understand the inherent dangers behind the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
That’s why they’re separately introducing bills before their respective legislative bodies that will hit any company directly or indirectly supportive of BDS where it hurts the most — in the wallet.
House Resolution 2645 would prevent the federal Thrift Savings Fund — the retirement investment plan for federal employees, which had a balance of $448.8 billion as of February — from investing in any company that boycotts Israel.
And H.R. 318, co-sponsored by Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), is a bipartisan resolution condemning any resolutions or policies calling for or instituting a boycott of Israeli academic institutions of higher learning and scholarly associations.
At the same time, Rep. Kevin Boyle, who’s running for state senator in the April 26 Democratic primary, has introduced a joint resolution with Nick Micarelli (R-Delaware County) seeking similar action within Pennsylvania.
They’re calling for the commonwealth to not invest pensions or contracts with BDS-supporting companies, while calling for those companies to be publically identified.
Though working separately, the Boyles are trying to send a message that BDS is not acceptable at any level of government.
According to Brendan Boyle, if these measures pass, they will have a financial impact that will register with European and other pro-Palestinian forces – and it will create greater awareness of a situation many don’t fully comprehend.
This isn’t Brendan Boyle’s first time taking a pro-Israel stance, which is why he met April 18 with Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, who personally thanked him for his diligence. Back when Boyle was in the state legislature, he was the driving force behind a bill in 2014 that led to state-required Holocaust Awareness Education.
Now he’s taking on an even bigger, more insidious issue.
“There’s no question that globally those who want to boycott are highly motivated and have some financial backing,” said Brendan Boyle, who — with his brother –visited Israel as part of the Jewish Federation-led trip in 2013 when he was still a state representative and again last year when he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “They recently succeeded in getting Europe to get special labeling of Israeli products.
“So companies quietly are being caught in an uncomfortable position. A lot of them are international companies getting pressure to boycott Israel.
“That’s why it is so important for us to stand up. Any analogy between Israel and apartheid South Africa is anti-Semitic. What is so offensive and outrageous is they’re trying to boycott Israel the same way South Africa was boycotted in the 1980s. But there’s absolutely no comparison between modern-day Israel and brutal South Africa.”
Just a few weeks ago, Boyle was the keynote speaker at a conference in Miami where he spoke about BDS before a group that included a number of lawmakers from Latin America and South America. What he came to realize there — as well as from speaking with people closer to home — is how little they truly understand about the subject.
“I’m finding number of people who live in my district who are not totally aware how systemic the effort is to boycott and sanction Israel,” said Boyle, who is running unopposed in the primary. “The BDS movement is stronger today than at any point in history.
“It started slowly getting steam last year. It’s a well-funded and very highly motivated attempt to take advantage of how unaware or apathetic people are of what they’re up to.”
Having gone through this before with the Holocaust Awareness Education bill, Boyle has a good idea how to proceed. For starters, he serves on the House Oversight in Government Reform Committee, where the bill will be reviewed before ever seeing the House floor for a vote.
“People will offer amendments, and we’ll be fighting against other priorities,” he said. “I don’t expect public opposition to this, but people will express private concerns that can prevent it from getting on the calendar. This is a massive amount of money we’re talking about. And restrictions on it raises the attention of a lot of people.
“But having done this before, I know what it takes and I’m optimistic we’ll be able to follow through. What I learned from that is a lot of people want to be involved, so you have to stay diligent. I really drove that bill and made sure people paid attention to it.”
That’s the advice he’s giving his brother on the state level.
“It helped me I had a grassroots effort when I went to the state capital,” Brendan Boyle said. “If you have a member of the state body pushing the legislation, it becomes a very powerful coalition that has to be paid attention to. I see that as the same analogy for my brother’s BDS legislation.”
All of this came out of a simple trip to Israel.
“Three years ago, my brother and I spent a week touring the country,” Brendan Boyle said. “We saw the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv. We were struck by this vibrant democracy in a region not known for it. Everything that happened since instigated from that trip.”
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