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Pennsylvania senators introduce bill to protect investments in Israel

HARRISBURG, PA – Senators Steve Santarsiero (D-10) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28) on Friday announced new legislation aimed at maintaining Pennsylvania’s support for Israel. The proposed bill seeks to prohibit holding companies in the Pennsylvania State Treasury or Commonwealth pension funds from boycotting or divesting Israel and companies that do business with Israel. Moreover, the intention is to withhold state funding from higher education institutions participating in such activities.

The legislation is a response to recent protests on college campuses in the United States. In several cases, these protests led to universities considering divesting from Israel and companies associated with the Israeli government.

“It is important that Pennsylvania continues to promote trade and commercial activities with Israel, given Israel’s strategic importance to the United States as a long-standing ally and the only true democracy in a volatile region of the world,” said Senator Santarsiero. “To that end, we must act to prevent our Commonwealth, including our colleges and universities, from taking the completely unjustified action of withdrawing from Israel.”

Senator Phillips-Hill emphasized the need for unwavering support for Israel. “Policymakers at all levels of government must do everything possible to support our country’s greatest ally in the Middle East: Israel,” she said. “Like America, Israel will not be bullied by adversaries. A strong and prosperous Israel needs a strong partner in the United States. This bipartisan measure will ensure that no one can use anti-Semitic tactics to weaken our resolve to support Israel.”

The proposed legislation would not affect investment decisions made solely to promote the financial position of the funds. Instead, it focuses on preventing politically motivated actions against Israel that could harm the economic relationship between Pennsylvania and Israel.

Senator Santarsiero first supported similar legislation in 2015, which aimed to prevent state funds from being allocated to Pennsylvania universities that chose to divest from Israel. The new bill builds on these efforts and reflects ongoing concerns about maintaining strong ties with Israel amid growing calls for divestment.

Pennsylvania’s bold stand: strengthening ties with Israel and combating anti-Semitism

The importance of this legislation lies in its potential impact on Pennsylvania’s economic and diplomatic relations. Israel has long been considered a key ally of the United States, and maintaining robust trade and commercial activities with Israel is considered essential for both countries. By banning divestments, Pennsylvania wants to send a clear message of support and solidarity.

In addition, the bill addresses the broader issue of anti-Semitism. By targeting divestment efforts that are often rooted in political opposition to Israel, the legislation seeks to counter strategies that could isolate or harm the Jewish state. This position reinforces the commitment to combating anti-Semitism in all forms.

For higher education institutions, the bill means the state’s position on international relations and economic policy. Universities considering divestment may face financial consequences, prompting them to reconsider their position on Israel. This could impact the broader academic and public discourse surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and related geopolitical issues.

As Senators Santarsiero and Phillips-Hill prepare to introduce the legislation in the coming weeks, its progress will be closely watched. The bill represents a bipartisan effort to strengthen Pennsylvania’s ties with Israel while addressing today’s political and social challenges.

In summary, the proposed legislation reflects Pennsylvania’s strategic and ethical commitment to supporting Israel. By banning divestments and boycotts, the state aims to promote a stable and productive relationship with a crucial ally while addressing broader concerns about anti-Semitism and economic policy.

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