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Crapo, Risch, Cassidy Sound Alarm on Resurgence of BDS Movement Threatening Israel’s Right to Exist

Washington, D.C.--U.S. Senators Mike Crapo, Jim Risch (both R-Idaho), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-Louisiana) and 12 Republican colleagues raised concerns with the Biden Administration over the resurgence of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement on college campuses to economically harm Israel and threaten Israel’s right to exist as a nation.  Additionally, the Senators raised the issue that Biden’s 2022 environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) rule could empower left-wing activists to insert BDS policies into retirement plans, politicizing Americans’ retirement savings with the intention of hurting Israel.  

“We are deeply concerned that, in this environment of unrest, there is likely to be a resurgence in the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which will be used to economically harm and delegitimize the state of Israel,”  wrote the Senators.  “Although student government resolutions are not binding, support for these initiatives can lead to a divisive atmosphere on campus.” 

Coinciding with the rise in anti-Israel protests on college campuses, certain campus organizations have issued petitions calling for their college or university to support the BDS movement.  For example, a news report indicates that Arizona State University’s (ASU) chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) intends to deliver a petition calling on ASU to boycott Israel and divest from companies supporting the country.  Similarly, Vassar College’s SJP chapter staged a walkout on October 25, demanding that the college divest from weapons manufacturers arming Israel while publicizing its independent contractors’ investments.  They also urged the college to boycott two study abroad programs in Israel, and called for an end to the blockade and U.S. funds to Israel. 

“Furthermore, if the sentiments expressed in these resolutions are shared by a college or university system’s trustees, the institution’s affirmation of a pro-BDS position would have very real consequences for Israel, a military and cultural ally,”  continued the Senators.  “The American people must be confident that pension investors will not override the economic goals, or personal views, of beneficiaries to pursue their own political agenda.” 

U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), Rick Scott (R-Florida), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kansas), Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) and Katie Britt (R-Alabama) also signed the letter.

Last year, the Biden Administration issued its final environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) rule that empowers asset managers to prioritize political ideology when considering investments for retirement plans.  The Senators raised concerns that this policy would allow activist university trustees to weaponize Americans’ retirement savings to target Israel and companies who do business with Israel. 

Crapo, Risch and Cassidy also urged the Biden Administration to use its enforcement power under Title VI to ensure colleges and universities uphold their responsibilities to maintain a safe learning environment for Jewish students.

Read the full letter here.