Pennsylvania Senators Introduce Bill to Protect Investments in Israel

Harrisburg, CapitolCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — Senators Steve Santarsiero (D-10) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28) announced new legislation on Friday aimed at upholding Pennsylvania’s support for Israel. The proposed bill seeks to prohibit holdings in the Pennsylvania State Treasury or Commonwealth pension funds from boycotting or divesting from Israel and companies doing business with Israel. Additionally, it aims to withhold state funding from any higher education institution that participates in such activities.

The legislation comes in response to recent protests on college campuses across the United States. In several cases, these protests led universities to consider divesting from Israel and companies involved with the Israeli government.

“It is important that Pennsylvania continue 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 wholly unwarranted action of divesting from Israel.”

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

The proposed legislation would not affect investment decisions made solely to advance 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.

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

Pennsylvania’s Bold Stand: Strengthening Ties with Israel and Combating Antisemitism

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 seen as vital to both nations. By prohibiting divestment, Pennsylvania aims to send a clear message of support and solidarity.

Moreover, the bill addresses the broader issue of antisemitism. By targeting divestment efforts often rooted in political opposition to Israel, the legislation seeks to counteract strategies that could isolate or harm the Jewish state. This stance reinforces the commitment to combating antisemitism in all forms.

For institutions of higher learning, the bill signifies the state’s position on international relations and economic policy. Universities considering divestment may face financial repercussions, prompting them to reconsider their stance on Israel. This could influence 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 contemporary political and social challenges.

In summary, the proposed legislation reflects Pennsylvania’s strategic and ethical commitment to supporting Israel. By prohibiting divestment and boycotts, the state aims to foster a stable and productive relationship with a crucial ally while addressing broader concerns about antisemitism and economic policy.

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