Texas became the latest U.S. state to pass legislation targeting the anti-Israel BDS movement Thursday.
The Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed HB89, which prohibits the state from contracting with or investing in entities that boycott Israel.
“This legislation serves to protect the bond and preserve the relationship between Israelis and Texans,” said Jesse Stock, Texas coordinator for the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs, in his testimony on behalf of the legislation. “Israeli technology has saved American lives on the battlefield, it powers our cellphones and computers, it puts food on our dinner tables, and it protects us right here in Texas from enemies abroad.”
Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of Texas-headquartered Christians United for Israel, another advocate for the anti-BDS legislation, said the “relationship between the Jewish state and the Lone Star State is built upon shared values, including a rock-solid commitment to standing up for liberty—especially when it is threatened by radical Islamic extremism.”
The legislation was spearheaded by Republican Texas State Rep. Phil King, who said BDS is “largely driven by anti-Jewish bigotry” and that “individual states do not want to be complicit in a movement that seeks to discriminate against Israelis and harm the states’ economies.” Texas has exported $13 billion in goods to Israel during the last 20 years, according to King.
Texas joins nearly 20 other U.S. states that have passed anti-BDS legislation since 2015. The bill now goes back to the State Senate—which passed a similar measure in March—for reconciliation, and then heads to the desk of Texas Governor Greg Abbott for final approval.