Los Angeles’s City Council unanimously approved a resolution on June 12 stating that the city would continue awarding city contracts without considering issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The resolution, sponsored by Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Mitchell Englander, deals a pre-emptive blow to backers of the BDS movement. That movement, which seeks to marginalize Israel and has been gaining some traction on some college campuses in California, is named for its three primary strategies, boycotts, divestment, and sanctions.
The resolution came before the council nine months after a coalition of B.D.S. activists urged the city not to award a bus contract to a French multinational company with business holdings in the West Bank.
Back in September 2012, when activists assembled to urge councilmembers on the transportation committee not to renew a city contract with Veolia Transportation, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’s community engagement committee and other local Jewish groups turned back the effort, arguing that not renewing Veolia’s contract would be a breach of fiduciary duty, and might even be illegal.
Federation helped draft the resolution that passed on Wednesday, which stated that all contracting decisions would continue to be made “based on the best interests of the City, its residents, businesses and taxpayers,” and not taking into account “issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
In a statement emailed to the Journal by a member of Federation staff, Federation Board Member Daniel Gryczman, who also chairs its community engagement initiative, said he believed the resolution was the first of its kind adopted by a large American city.
“We are very proud of the victory and the community coalition that our Federation built around this issue,” Gryczman said in the statement.
The full text of the resolution is below:
WHEREAS, individuals affiliated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
(BDS) Movement attempt to isolate and delegitimize the State of Israel through targeted campaigns across the United States; and
WHEREAS, the BDS movement seeks to block American cities from doing business with or awarding contracts to companies doing business with Israel; and
WHEREAS representatives of this movement have recently targeted the City of
Los Angeles in an attempt to influence City policy decisions in support of their BDS efforts; and
WHEREAS, the Federal government and the State of California have adopted measures prohibiting discrimination in commerce on the basis of contacts in or with Israel; and
WHEREAS, the Federal Government has repeatedly emphasized that efforts to isolate and delegitimize Israel will not promote Middle East peace, which can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties; and
WHEREAS, linking the City’s public contracting process to the Arab-Israeli conflict would be contrary to state and Federal policy and is not in the best interest of the City; and
WHEREAS, attempting to isolate Israel in this way will only cause needless division within our community.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the City of Los Angeles will continue to make contracting decisions based on the best interests of the City, its residents, businesses and taxpayers and in accordance with the City Charter and applicable State and Federal law and hereby affirms that issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict will not be considered and will have no impact on the awarding of contracts with the City of Los Angeles.
PAUL KORETZ, 5TH District MITCHELL ENGLANDER, 12TH District