SuperTalk Mississippi
Featured News Latest News Politics

Lawmakers pass bills prohibiting state from investing in companies boycotting Israel despite challenges to constitutionality

Israel protest
Protestors gathered in Mississippi's capital city in March to voice opposition to lawmakers renewing the Israel Support Act (photo courtesy of MS4Palestine)

Amid conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine, Mississippi lawmakers have moved to extend an existing law that bars the state from investing in companies that boycott the Jewish State.

Following the passage of companion bills in each chamber, protestors gathered upon the grounds of the state capitol on Wednesday and asked lawmakers to reconsider the legislation. Emad Al-Turk, the co-founder of the International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Jackson, helped organize the rally as the Israel Support of Act of 2019 is set to expire at the end of this year.

“If somebody wants to support Israel, they can support Israel. This is not about Israeli support. This is about curtailing Mississippians’ and Americans’ rights to freedom of speech, freedom of protest, and boycotting in a peaceful way,” Al-Turk explained.

When the legislation was originally passed and signed by then-Gov. Phil Bryant in 2019, it created a law prohibiting Mississippi’s public employees’ retirement system and the state treasury from investing in companies that boycott the Jewish State or those of Jewish descent – something Al-Turk and others deem a Constitutional violation.

“Are we really going to be boycotting people for expressing their opinions and expressing what groups they can and cannot support? That’s really why we’re against it,” Al-Turk said.

The legislation also created a section of the Department of Finance Authority’s website, where companies determined to be boycotting Israel are listed. Those companies are supposed to be given a 90-day written notice before being placed on the list, providing a chance to prove they are not boycotting the Middle Eastern nation.

Al-Turk believes the move was influenced by the Jewish lobby, particularly the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, as he accused lawmakers of secretly bringing this year’s legislation – to extend the existing law for another three years – to the floor for a vote. The activist said he was not made aware that the legislation was going to be introduced until March 7, the day the Senate unanimously passed the bill before a motion to reconsider was entered.

Al-Turk said once word was out that elected officials were closing in on renewing the Israel Support Act, he and other leaders tried to voice their concerns at the capitol. However, multiple requests to hold a rally were denied before being ultimately granted on Wednesday, one day after the Senate unanimously passed the measure again.

“It took them seven days to finally acquiesce to our requests. They’ve been resisting even listening to us,” he continued. “If we had known earlier that these bills were considered, we would have mobilized differently in the community. A lot of people are against it, but the legislators don’t want to listen to their constituents.”

Al-Turk alleged that lawmakers he was able to get in contact with were not familiar with what the bill entailed, some even admitting to not reading the full text. Even with Al-Turk arguing that the legislation has nothing to do with the overseas war, Republican Rep. Shane Aguirre says otherwise.

“This legislation continues Mississippi’s commitment to support the people of Israel by not investing our taxpayer’s funds in companies that are actively boycotting Israel,” Aguirre said.

While the bills still have to make it through conference, it is unlikely that enough lawmakers will backtrack at this point. With Gov. Tate Reeves being an outspoken supporter of Israel and critic of Palestine, the Republican is expected to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and sign the Israel Support Act back into law.

Stay up to date with all of Mississippi’s latest news by signing up for our free newsletter here

Copyright 2024 SuperTalk Mississippi Media. All rights reserved.

Related posts

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

slot gacor rtp live slot gacor situs toto situs togel slot gacor slot gacor situs togel bo togel situs toto situs toto SLOT GACOR