Tennessee legislature first in nation to approve anti-BDS measure

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015 by The Jewish Observer

With strong bi-partisan support, the Tennessee General Assembly has passed a resolution condemning the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and the worldwide increase in anti-Semitism.

The strongly worded resolution, which was approved unanimously by the state Senate on April 9, passed the House on Tuesday, April 21 with only a single vote in opposition. According to the Jewish news service JNS.org, the Tennessee legislature is the first in the nation to pass such a measure.  

            The strongly worded resolution characterizes the BDS movement as “one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitism and advocating the elimination of the Jewish state.” It said BDS activities “undermine the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, which they are fulfilling in the State of Israel.”

            The sponsors were State Sen. Delores Gresham (R-Somerville) and the state Rep.

 Sheila Butt (R-Columbia). State Rep. G. A. Hardaway (D-Memphis) was the lone dissenter. Gov. Bill Haslam was expected to sign the resolution before the end of the month.

            “We should be very proud that our state legislature has voiced its strong support and solidarity for the State of Israel and the Jewish people and for their expression of concern over rising anti-Semitism,” said Mark S. Freedman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

Although it carries no legal weight, Freedman said the resolution’s passage “comes at a most crucial time given recent events here in Nashville including the spray-painting of swastikas at a Jewish fraternity house at Vanderbilt University and the shooting incident last week at West End Synagogue.”

            Freedman especially thanked, Laurie Cardoza-Moore, founder of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, who initiated and led the lobbying effort for the resolution, and Rev. Lyndon Allen, the local representative of Christian United for Israel, who also provided support.

Full text of joint resolution 170 condemning  the boycott, divestment, and

sanctions movement and increasing incidents of anti-Semitism


WHEREAS, the citizens of the State of Tennessee have a history of standing against bigotry, oppression, discrimination, and injustice; and,


WHEREAS, Tennessee and Israel have a long history of friendship and are great allies in support of each other’s interests; and,


WHEREAS, the State of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is the greatest friend and ally of the United States in the Middle East; and


WHEREAS, in 1996, Governor Don Sundquist signed the Tennessee-Israel Cooperation Agreement with the State of Israel, resulting in business, governmental, art, cultural, educational, and university activities between the State of Tennessee and the State of Israel, further strengthening the historic ties between our State and that country; and


WHEREAS, the elected representatives of Tennessee recognize the importance of expressing their unabridged support for the Jewish people and the State of Israel’s right to exist and right of self-defense; and,


WHEREAS, there are increasing incidents of anti-Semitism around the world, including across the United States and in Tennessee reflected in official hate crime statistics; and,


WHEREAS, the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitism and advocating the elimination of the Jewish State; and


WHEREAS, activities promoting Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel have increased in the State of Tennessee, including on some university campuses and in other Tennessee communities, and contribute to anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism propaganda; and,


WHEREAS, the dramatic increase in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign activities on college campuses around the country has resulted in increased animosity and intimidation against Jewish students, negatively impacting student programming related to the State of Israel and politics in the Middle East; and,


WHEREAS, leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement say their goal is to eliminate Israel as the home of the Jewish people; and,


WHEREAS, signs and messaging at anti-Israel rallies in Tennessee have adopted the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions slogan, “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free,”meaning there would be no Israel between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, that the State of Israel will cease to exist; and,


WHEREAS, Tennessee’s elected representatives who defend the inalienable right to free speech, understand  that the goals and activities of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns in Tennessee are harmful to the State’s relationship with Tennessee’s Jewish citizens and with the Jewish homeland, Israel, and have a deleterious impact on the educational environment; and,


WHEREAS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns call for academic boycotts have been condemned by many of our nations largest academic associations, over 250 university presidents, and many other leading scholars as a violation of the bedrock principle of academic freedom; now therefore


BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE ONE HUNDRED NINTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING, that the members of the General Assembly condemns the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and its activities in Tennessee for seeking to undermine the Jewish peoples right to self-determination, which they are currently fulfilling in the State of Israel.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the members of the General Assembly condemn activities that contribute directly or indirectly to the denial, violation, or delegitimization of any peoples academic freedom, including but not limited to, promotion of academic boycotts by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the members of the General Assembly consider the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and its agenda inherently antithetical and deeply damaging to the causes of peace, justice, equality, democracy, and human rights for all peoples in the Middle East.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the members of the General Assembly reaffirm their support for the State of Israel, recognize that the Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel, condemn all attacks on the people of Israel, supports Israels right to engage in lawful acts of self-defense, and oppose all attempts to deny the legitimacy of Israel as a sovereign state.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that appropriate copies of this resolution be prepared and forwarded to the President of the United States, the Speaker and Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, the President and Secretary of the United States Senate, and the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. for transmission to the proper authorities in the State of Israel.