Last week, I joined leaders of the Jewish community and Gov. Rick Snyder for a ceremonial signing of House Bills 5821 and 5822 that became law at the end of last year. As the lead sponsor of these bills (with my former House colleague, Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville), I am proud to say that Michigan is now the 16th state to outlaw and condemn discrimination against Israel.
In the long process that led to passage of this landmark legislation, the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and many other members of the Jewish community played a pivotal role, along with non-Jewish groups that recognize the discriminatory nature of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS).
BDS allows companies to openly discriminate against Israel by boycotting Israeli-made products, and it is making inroads on college campuses and in governments throughout the world. Its one-sided treatment of the Jewish state is exactly the sort of discriminatory practice that we in Michigan have long opposed, regardless of which group suffers discrimination and special treatment.
The new laws amend sections of the Management and Budget Act to ensure our state is not a party to discrimination by contracting with discriminatory businesses. These new statutes require state departments and agencies to include a provision within their contracts that a company is not currently and will not for the duration of the contract engage in a boycott based in or doing business with a strategic partner of the United States, specifically, Israel. It is another step toward eradicating unfair and discriminatory business practices in our state.
During this uncertain political time, it is important to reaffirm our commitment to diversity and inclusion, rather than discrimination. These bills have been my priority since I first took office in 2015, and their passage marks a great achievement for our state, a place where discrimination is not tolerated and where we join with all who seek an end to conflict and a lasting peace.
Thank you to all who supported this legislation.
State Rep. Robert Wittenberg is a Democrat representing Oak Park.