This piece originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.

By Randall Czarlinsky, AJC Houston Regional Director

Regarding “To protect Israel, Texas violates rights” (Outlook, Friday): Anti-BDS laws do not infringe on the right to engage in political boycotts. Assuredly, they do not prohibit criticism of Israel or support for Palestinian statehood.

States are entitled to ensure themselves the full range of products on the market when purchasing goods and services. Anti-BDS laws ensure that states contracting for medicines are not denied access to drugs manufactured by Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals, a large producer of generic drugs. If someone does not want to do business with Teva, they have that right; they have no right to insist that states join their boycott.

None of the people challenging Texas’ law fit this rationale and should not have been subject to it. It does not follow that anti-BDS laws are generally invalid. We do not strike down laws because of their occasional misapplication.

Portraying the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as a civil rights movement for the Middle East is not comparable. It’s not. Omar Barghouti, founder and theoretician of the BDS movement, explicitly calls for the elimination of Israel. If people are interested in coexistence and peace, they should join other movements.

Randy Czarlinsky, AJC Houston Region Director

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