US: New Hampshire introduces anti-BDS executive order
The US state of New Hampshire has introduced a new order that bars the state from investing in companies that boycott Israel, joining more than 30 other states that have put in place some form of anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) legislation or executive order.
Chris Sununu, New Hampshire's Republican governor, signed the executive order on Thursday in a ceremony that was attended by Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan.
"Your crucial step is creating an economic Iron Dome that ensures our shared progress and prosperity," Erdan said during the ceremony. "We must boycott our boycotters and delegitimise our delegitimisers."
Erdan also referred to the UN's Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, set up in the wake of the 11-day Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip in May 2021, saying: "New Hampshire's support for Israel today is the perfect response to this antisemitic UN commission."
The executive order is similar to that of New York state in that it does not carry the force of law, given that it was not passed by the state's legislature.
The BDS movement is a Palestinian-led nonviolent initiative that seeks to challenge Israel's occupation and abuses of Palestinian human rights through economic, cultural and academic boycotts similar to the successful boycott campaigns of apartheid South Africa.
Anti-BDS laws or executive orders have been passed by 35 other states across the country, according to the legal advocacy group Palestine Legal.
Free speech advocates have decried anti-BDS legislation as being antithetical to the US constitution's first amendment - which guarantees the right to freedom of speech - and have accused the legislation of stifling the voices of Palestinians and their advocates.
Multiple lawsuits have been filed in the US against such laws to varying degrees of success. One lawsuit is now headed to the US Supreme Court after an appellate court in Arkansas upheld its law on the anti-BDS legislation.
Meanwhile, similar anti-boycott laws in Arizona, Kansas and Texas that had been blocked were later allowed to be enforced after lawmakers narrowed requirements to apply only to larger contracts. The Arkansas law applies to contracts worth $1,000 or more.
There have also been several attempts to pass a federal anti-BDS measure by some members of Congress.
Most recently, Republican Senator Marco Rubio reintroduced the Combating BDS Act, a bill designed to support state and local governments against BDS.
If passed, it would give congressional support to state and local governments that divest funds from or prohibit contracting with entities that engage in the BDS movement.