State Rep. Steve Santarsiero is taking a leap into foreign policy.
The lawmaker announced a new bill he is introducing that would protect Israel from boycotting efforts.
Recently, a number of universities have been pressured by their student bodies to divest any financial support or cooperation with the Israeli nation. These student movements believe this action is necessary due to Israeli policies towards the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Suffice to say, Israelis are not happy about being compared to a segregationist government.
Santarsiero’s legislation, HB 1018, would barr state funds for any university in PA that agrees to a boycott, divestment or sanction.
“Unfortunately, there is a growing – and alarming – trend on some college and university campuses to launch politically motivated attacks with the intent of pressuring these institutions to engage in boycotts against or divestment from Israel,” Santarsiero stated at a press conference. “The state of Israel is the only dependable, democratic ally of the United States in the Middle East. As such, it is in the interest of this commonwealth to promote America’s close ties with Israel.”
“This legislation would not ban open debate or free speech. It merely creates consequences should schools succumb to political pressure to harm Israel,” he explained.
Among Santarsiero and his colleagues, the press event also featured representatives from the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
“Simply put, my legislation would make sure our commonwealth is not a party to the corrosive actions of the BDS movement,” Santarsiero concluded. “I am proud to have broad bipartisan support for this measure and look forward to working together with the co-sponsors and the Jewish Federations to get this passed.”
State Rep. Santarsiero is running for Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District, which represents all of Bucks County and part of Upper Montgomery County. Santarsiero is facing a challenge in the Democratic primary from chemist and 2014 candidate Shaughnessy Naughton. The seat is being vacated by retiring Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.