Arlene Bridges Samuels
The Eclectic Evangelical @InEssentialsUnity

Airbnb is based in California: Will Legislators use Their anti-BDS laws?

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Beware. The Boycott, Divest and Sanctions(BDS) movement’s hateful rhetoric, violence, and activism is spreading its tentacles into every crevice of society. BDS is waging a battle against the Jewish state and it’s called Economic Warfare. They propagandize with ferocity:”Shut down companies doing business in or with Israel! Don’t buy any products manufactured in Israel! Prevent pro-Israel leaders from speaking on campuses!” When we read and hear hatred’s voices exclaiming, “Every time I read about Hitler I fall in love all over again” or “Let’s stuff some Jews in the oven,” shock and helplessness can suffocate us. Take heart. Help is in our hands! We must act!

Founded in 2005, the BDS movement has grown and accelerated but wide-spread effective opposition is now in high gear. Twenty-six state legislatures in the USA have passed anti-BDS laws or enacted Executive Orders since 2015. The legislative movement to reverse economic warfare against Israel is just one of the antidotes for countering Airbnb’s recent decision to remove West Bank homes from its official rental roster. BDS zealots now consider Airbnb, a well-liked and successful company, a prize for their movement. These state legislatures-with more to come-are gaining ground to defeat BDS. In 2015, when Ambassador Nikki Haley served as Governor, South Carolina led the way as the “pace car” to pass anti-BDS legislation. Kentucky recently grew the number to 26. States are signaling that the race against BDS is on! The United States Congress is matching their efforts with anti-BDS legislation making its way through the House and Senate with bipartisan support.

The legislation in twenty-six states contains variations but the themes are the same. For example, Colorado’s legislature requires its Public Employee Retirement Association to research, then restrict companies that support BDS. New York’s Governor made an Executive Order requiring its agencies to stop cooperating with Israel-boycotting companies. In a speech at Manhattan’s Harvard Club Cuomo stated, “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you.” As for California, its Assembly Bill 2844 became law in September 2016. Companies that want to do business with the state must certify that they are not involved in the BDS movement.

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For several years, US Congress has also shaped anti-BDS legislation. In June 2018, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed legislation on its Israel Anti-Boycott Act H.R. 1697. The bipartisan legislation will specifically amend the Export Administration Act of 1979 which “bars US companies from adhering to Israel sanctions or boycotts administered by the Arab League.” The House garnered 292 sponsors.

New York Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel explained, “Current law already prohibits US companies from participating in state-sponsored boycotts of countries friendly to the United States.” California Republican Ed Royce added, “This bill…amends the Export Administration Act of 1979 to include in the prohibitions on boycotts against allies of the United States, boycotts fostered by international governmental organizations like the UN, against Israel, and to direct the Export-Import Bank of the United States to oppose boycotts against Israel…” Learn more here: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), dedicated to strengthening the US-Israel relationship via congressional legislation, is urging its activists to contact their lawmakers to pass The Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720 and H.R.1697) and The Combating BDS Act of 2017 (S.170 and H.R. 2856).

Both Jewish and Christian communities worldwide have joined together to stop BDS. Expertly aided by The Israel Allies Foundation (IAF) IAF aims to take the battle to the remaining 24 United States. Its purpose is to work with Congress and parliaments around the world to mobilize political support for Israel based on Judeo-Christian values with its commitment that the “State of Israel has the right to exist in peace within secure borders.”

While the BDS movement-infested with antiSemitism-forcefully works to single out and penalize Israel, states also clearly recognize that the BDS movement is a danger to the US economy and can adversely affect economies worldwide. The Jewish Virtual Library, contains many excellent facts about economic health related to Israel. Israel was the first nation to sign a US free trade agreement in 1985. The Jewish state is now one of our 12 largest export markets per capita. In addition, tariffs are non-existent. Looking at statistics from South Carolina and Kentucky, for example, the benefits are significant! Total exports from South Carolina to Israel between 1996-2017 grew from $56K to more than $1 billion! Kentucky’s Israel export economy grew from $55K to almost $1 billion.

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A table in the Jewish Virtual Library also gives these statistics. From 1948 to 2017 the numbers speak for themselves. Imports from Israel in 1948 were $5K. Exports to Israel were $34K. Today, the figures are astonishing. US imports from Israel total more than $761 billion and US exports to Israel are more than $1 trillion! Yet, BDS proponents may be so embedded in their hatred that these economic facts won’t register with them. Do they realize that their efforts to harm Israel will backfire on them here in the US and other nations if jobs are lost in adversely affected economies?

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin commented in a 2016 YNET Op-Ed that “…Boycotts, violence, and incitement only deepen divides, and don’t bring us any closer to a solution. When BDS takes over, criticism turns into camouflage for the de-legitimization of the existence of the State of Israel.”

My favorite theologian Reverend Dietrich Bonhoeffer was martyred in Flossenburg for his efforts to save Jewish communities in World War II.

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These times require us to embrace his famous quote:

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

My friends, we cannot follow the 1930s and 1940s destructive paths of apathy. We must suit up, maintain vigilance, pray, take legislative action, and strengthen the Jewish state in every way possible. For the sake of Israel and for Airbnb itself, I hope they will renounce their disastrous decision. After all, Airbnb may risk their opportunity to go public in 2019 and beyond.

About the Author
Arlene Bridges Samuels has held pioneering positions with Israel Always, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, (AIPAC) and International Christian Embassy Jerusalem's project (ICEJUSA), American Christian Leaders for Israel. Traveling to Israel since 1990, she is now an author at the Times of Israel, The Christian Post, and a networker, consultant, and speaker. Her articles have also appeared in Philos Project, Providence Magazine (The Institute on Religion and Democracy), ICEJ's Word from Jerusalem, Mercy Ships, and Concerned Women for America. She shares her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on Facebook and is an active member of a small Anglican church. After attending Winthrop University in her home state of South Carolina, Arlene earned her Masters degree at the University of Alabama. She looks forward to the Alabama Crimson Tide winning another national football championship this season!
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