State Legislative Responses to the Arab Boycott of Israel

The Arab boycott of Israel confronts the American business community with difficult ethical and political decisions. Six states, led by New York, have quietly enacted anti boycott laws designed to prevent economic trade opportunities with the Middle East from encouraging discrimination within their borders. The laws seek to prohibit the discriminatory effects of the boycott, which indicates that the Arab-Israeli conflict is not limited to military weapons or confined to the nations of the Middle East. More importantly, the states’ responses signal a growing awareness that the federal government is unwilling to handle the complex moral, political, economic, and legal issues relating to the Arab boycott of Israel.

This note will examine the history and nature of the boycott, the present federal and state statutes designed to thwart its effects, and the state antiboycott statutes and their accompanying practical problems.