After reviewing the anti-BDS aspects of the legislation, Democrats for Israel Los Angeles supports the goals of S.1 but we also believe it would be better to have a broader application of the law to foreign policy regarding U.S. allies in general. Most of S.1 increases aid to Israel in critical areas, by extending current aid packages and increasing cooperation in the areas of space exploration and sharing technologies (based on strong export controls by Israel).
The one portion we have had concerns with was the Combating BDS Act. While we believe that there are elements of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement that oppose Israel's existence, we are also cognizant of the importance of protecting free speech up until the point it becomes hate speech or promotes violence.
After analyzing the bill, we conclude that the legislation has nothing to do with either limiting or criminalizing speech about Israel. It does however, provide for a set of transparent rules regarding how a public entity may conduct a vote on divestment or contracting with a company that has chosen to boycott or divest from Israel and allows states to develop similar rules. We would prefer that these rules apply more broadly to U.S. allies.
To be clear, this law allows divestment from Israel and companies doing business with Israel.
However, based on recent attempts to push through votes on divestment without notice, the law requires that the entity (a) provide notice of the vote (b) an opportunity for comment from the public and (c) such action, if approved must take place 90 days or later after the vote.
We view this as ensuring due process and transparency and does not criminalize a decision to divest. Such rules should apply more broadly to U.S. allies in general.
The remainder of the law contains enabling language that permits enforcement of the law by the Department of Justice.
This text addresses our concerns about balancing free speech rights but again broader application would do more to create a uniform set of rules instead of making it about just one (albeit a very important one).
We encourage you to read the bill yourself at https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/1/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22Israel%22%5D%7D&r=1&s=1#toc-idB9D55ED16FE3443F8D6B1E75763EFF93