House Committee Passes Bill Requiring Public Entities to Divest From Companies Boycotting Israel

House Committee Passes Bill Requiring Public Entities to Divest From Companies Boycotting Israel

By Corinne Murdock |

The House Government and Elections Committee passed a bill requiring public entities to divest from companies boycotting Israel. The bill passed 8-5: those who voted against the bill were State Representatives Kelli Butler (D-Phoenix), Sarah Liguori (D-Phoenix), Lorenzo Sierra (D-Avondale), Christian Solorio (D-Phoenix), and Jennifer Jermaine (D-Chandler). 

SB1250 requires all public entities, which includes universities, to take action within three months of the state treasurer releasing its list of companies that boycott Israel. Last September, Treasurer Kimberly Yee declared that Arizona would divest from ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s due to its violation of the state’s law barring Israel boycotts. The bill requires public entities to publish a list of investments sold, redeemed, divested, or withdrawn on its website annually. Public entities would be indemnified and held harmless for these divestments.

A spokesman from the treasurer’s office explained that SB1250 would hold other public entities to the same standard as their policy. He said that one company has announced divestment measures: Unilever.

State Representative Alma Hernandez (D-Tucson) said that she’s fought against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for its “hateful” rhetoric, false accusations, and general attacks toward Jewish peoples. Hernandez noted that on February 10 the leader of the Arab party in Israel, Mansour Abbas, refused to characterize Israel as an apartheid state.

“No one here is trying to stop a student from boycotting or anyone’s First Amendment right to speech,” said Hernandez. “A vote against this is really showing that we are standing with BDS and I don’t think we should be doing that as a state.”

Liguori stated that the Israel-Palestine conflict is complex and took issue with the bill because supporters were conflating their personal and political ideologies with economic prowess. Liguori said that Ben & Jerry’s marked a slippery slope of picking with countries to divest from, and argued that legislators were singling out one company for political reasons. 

Prior to his vote for the bill, State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) argued that the testimonies from the Arizona State University (ASU) students furthered his resolve to not provide additional funding for the universities due to the students’ misunderstanding of basic constitutional concepts and foreign affairs.

The Senate passed the bill last month with mixed support from Democrats and complete support from Republicans.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

House Committee Passes Bill Requiring Public Entities to Divest From Companies Boycotting Israel

Senate Passes Bill Requiring Public Entities, Higher Education to Divest From Companies Boycotting Israel

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona Senate passed a bill requiring public entities — the meaning of which was expanded to include state universities and community college districts — to divest from companies boycotting Israel. 

Specifically, SB1250 would require public entities to take action within three months of the state treasurer releasing its restricted company list, a record of companies that boycott Israel. As AZ Free News reported last September, Treasurer Kimberly Yee announced that the state wouldn’t invest funds in the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s for its Israel boycott, which violated state law. Furthermore, under SB1250 all public entities would also be required to publish a list of investments sold, redeemed, divested, or withdrawn on its website annually. Those public entities would be indemnified and held harmless for divesting from the companies. 

About half of the Senate Democrats voted against the bill: Assistant Minority Leader Lupe Contreras (D-Avondale), Minority Whip Martin Quezada (D-Glendale) and State Senators Sally Ann Gonzales (D-Tucson), Theresa Hatathlie (D-Coal Mine Canyon), Lisa Otondo (D-Yuma), and Raquel Teran (D-Phoenix). 

The remainder of the Senate Democrats expressed support or opted not to vote at all. Minority Leader Rebecca Rios (D-Phoenix), Minority Whip Victoria Steele (D-Tucson), and State Senators Lela Alston (D-Phoenix), Sean Bowie (D-Chandler), Rosanna Gabaldon (D-Sahuarita), and Christine Marsh (D-Phoenix) voted for the bill; State Senators Juan Mendez (D-Tempe) and Stephanie Stahl Hamilton (D-Tucson) didn’t vote. 

During the Senate Finance Committee hearing last week, State Representative David Gowan (R-Sierra Vista) criticized the constituents, several of whom were college students, that claimed the state of Israel has engaged in an “apartheid regime” against the Palestinians. 

“I know what real history is, and you want to talk about apartheid let’s talk about Hitler and the Jews and the Nazis back in Germany,” said Gowan. “This movement is just another attack on the Jewish society. I mean you see it throughout history itself. It’s a horrible situation that we have to reteach, reteach, reteach because we forget about our past. But remember when you forget the past, you’re gonna repeat it. We want to stop this now so we don’t repeat our past.”

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.