“I would say that BDS stands for ‘blind, deaf and stupid,’” quipped Wall Street mega-investor J. Morton Davis at an event last week honoring the state of New Jersey for passing legislation against the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) campaign targeting Israel.
Davis is chairman, chief executive officer and president of D.H. Blair Investment Banking Corp and also serves as chairman of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, which held the event for New Jersey politicians and business leaders.
Last June, the New Jersey Legislature passed landmark bipartisan legislation prohibiting the state from using pension and annuity funds to invest in companies that boycott the Jewish state or businesses located in Israel. Similar legislation has since been passed in numerous other states.
“We are proud to be at the forefront of not just fighting the BDS movement but to be leaders in acknowledging and celebrating the politicians and staff who put tireless work into passing these bills,” stated Odeleya Jacobs, vice president of public policy and economic development for the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce.
Duvi Honig, founder and CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, stressed that the BDS movement targets not only Jewish Israelis but Israeli Arabs and Palestinians employed by Israeli companies.
“Palestinians are losing quality jobs by the thousands due to BDS and we’re here to be their voice as well,” Honig told the audience.
Indeed, in one example, hundreds of Palestinians were laid off after the BDS campaign drove a major SodaStream factory out of the West Bank in 2015.
“We were one family. I am sad because I am leaving my friends who have worked here for a long time,” Anas Abdul Wadud Ghayth, 25, told the Guardian newspaper when he lost his job due to the BDS campaign after four years at the factory.
The Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce event gave an award to State Assemblyman Gary Schaer, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, and to State Assemblyman Raj Mukherji.
The Jewish Press reported on the two state politicians’ speeches, which can be seen in the videos below:
Assemblyman Schaer elaborated upon the significance of the legislation, noting that the large size of the state’s pension fund would make any company think twice before engaging in BDS activity. He stressed that successful legislation can only be accomplished with a string lobbying effort and community engagement.
… Assemblyman Mukherji, who represents Jersey City and is of Indian-American descent, shared more background behind his Israel advocacy. He spoke passionately about his three recent trips to Israel, arranged by the New Jersey – Israel Commission. He spoke of the constant threat of terrorism that looms upon residents of Sderot and other Israeli cities, depriving them of the freedom and sense of security enjoyed by Americans.
“I don’t deserve an honor for my work; it was a duty and necessity,” he exclaimed. “As Dr. King would say, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’” The assemblyman thanked the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce for being an effective vehicle for public policy.
Watch Assemblyman Gary Schaer’s speech here:
Watch Assemblyman Raj Mukherji’s speech below: