Denver, CO — March 11, 2016 … Colorado’s State Legislature passed House Bill 16-1284 (HB16-1284) sponsored by Representatives Dominick Moreno (D) and Dan Nordberg (R) and Senators Leroy Garcia (D) and Owen Hill (R), with strong bipartisan support Wednesday. The bill is designed to prohibit the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) from investing in international companies that engage in an economic boycott of the State of Israel. After returning to the House for a concurrence vote, the bill will be sent to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper for final approval.
This measure represents a significant effort to combat the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the State of Israel, which has become increasingly counterproductive to the peace process. Once HB16-1284 is signed into law, Colorado will become one of four states to-date to pass legislation opposing BDS.
“If PERA were to invest in companies that have economic prohibitions against Israel, then we as citizens of Colorado would be indirectly supporting sanctions against our strongest ally in the Middle East, and the only one which shares our democratic values,” said JCRC Chair Ben Lusher, “We applaud the General Assembly for taking this important step to ensure our investments reflect our priorities and our values.”
“If you are pro-Palestinian, pro-Israel, pro-Peace, and pro-Progress, then you should be anti-BDS,” said Doug Seserman, JEWISHcolorado President and CEO. I’m very proud of JEWISHcolorado and the JCRC for taking a leadership role to combat the BDS movement and to work closely with elected officials to advance this important legislation.”
The JCRC will be celebrating the passing of HB16-1284 at its Annual Leadership Luncheon on Wednesday, April 20th from 11:00 – 1:00 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, 1750 Welton Street in Denver. During the luncheon, the organization will honor legislators who were pioneers in forming an ongoing Israel Caucus at the State Capitol. JCRC will also be recognizing community leader Rob Kaufmann and corporate partner Noble Energy as well.
The BDS movement calls for the international community to impose broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and impose embargoes and sanctions against the State of Israel. The campaign, which was launched in 2000, was endorsed by pro-Palestinian organizations in Europe and the United States. The call for BDS against Israel has since become a mainstay of the global anti-Israel movement.
Why This Matters
Increasingly, BDS campaigns have become an effective way for anti-Israel activists to attract attention to their message. Although often framed as a human rights movement, the BDS Movement works unambiguously to undermine the “two states for two peoples” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is the solution supported by the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union. In addition, it does not recognize the Israeli Government’s support of Palestinian efforts to create institutions and infrastructure to improve the situation for Palestinians. Economic boycotts of Israel are destructive measures that will not lead to peace. Furthermore, they will ensure fewer jobs are available for Palestinians. Israel remains America’s strongest ally in the Middle East and the only one which shares our values of freedom of the press, gender equality, religious freedom and other pillars of a democracy.
Founded in 1946, JEWISHcolorado is inspired by the collective responsibility to build and sustain Jewish life in Colorado, Israel, and around the world. Our mission is to secure, steward, and share philanthropic and human resources in support of vibrant Jewish life as well as mobilize the community in times of need. JEWISHcolorado is a proud member of Jewish Federations of North America, which is collectively ranked among the top ten charities on the continent. Last year, JEWISHcolorado’s Annual Campaign raised $11.2 million and the Endowment and Planned Giving arm house more than $60 million in long term assets.
About the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)
The JCRC, a program of JEWISHcolorado, advocates for domestic and international policy issues that affect the Colorado Jewish community, represents these views to the Jewish community and to the general community of Colorado, and organizes the Jewish community in times of crisis. JCRC consists of 37 member organizations, 15 at-large members, and is affiliated with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA).