After two public readings, the Village Council of Bal Harbour unanimously passed an ordinance prohibiting the Village from contracting with any business unless the contract includes a representation that the business is not currently engaged in, and will not engage in, the boycott of a person or an entity based in or doing business with a country or jurisdiction with which the United States has free trade or other agreements.
This Anti-BDS Ordinance is aimed at ensuring open and nondiscriminatory trade with partners, such as the State of Israel. Under this ground-breaking ordinance, any business which contracts with the Village, must first represent that it is “not currently engaged in..., and will not engage in the [b]oycott of a person or an entity based in or doing business with an 'Open Trade Jurisdiction.'” (An Open Trade Jurisdiction is defined in the ordinance as World Trade Organization members and those countries with which the United States has free trade or other agreements aimed at ensuring open and nondiscriminatory trade regulations.) The ordinance is similar to SB 86, a bill sponsored by Florida State Senator Joe Negron, which recently passed unanimously through a Florida Senate budget panel.
Councilman Gabriel Groisman, who first presented the Bal Habour Village Ordinance in September, shared the following remarks:
Bal Harbour has a history of discrimination, which residents of years past fought hard to change. There was a time where African-American and Jews were not permitted to even own homes in Bal Harbour. Thankfully, these practices have changed, and Bal Harbour is now a symbol of diversity and success in the State of Florida. Given our history, we have a responsibility to be leaders on these very issues.
Recently, we have seen the increase in efforts to boycott and otherwise discriminate on the basis of nationality and ethnicity. Leading this effort is a bigoted campaign to delegitimize the democratic State of Israel, through a movement called “BDS,” which leads efforts to boycott, divest and sanction businesses, academics and persons from, or doing business in, the State of Israel. Make no mistake about it, the BDS movement is a global propaganda campaign against Israel, that serves as thin cover for anti-Semitism - the levels of which we have not seen in the Western World in over 60 years.
This ordinance will protect the economic and social interests of the citizens of Bal Harbour, who widely reject discriminatory business practices, especially when they are funded in any way by public taxpayer money. This ordinance will require any entity that enters into a contract with Bal Harbour to certify that they are not boycotting, and will not boycott, or divest from a legitimate, recognized US trade partner.
The ordinance will further send a strong message to the private sector that the Village of Bal Harbour will not do business with companies who practice ethnic, religious, racial or national-origin discrimination.
Bal Harbour has now made its citizens' voice heard. Our city will continue to be a leader in the State of Florida and in the Country in fighting against discrimination and bigotry; not just in business and tourism, but also in social issues of the day, such as BDS.
We are the first municipality in the country, as far as I know, to take such a strong and important stand against the BDS movement. This is a proud day for the Village of Bal Harbour.
The Council voted 5-0 in support of the ordinance. The Council consists of Mayor Martin Packer, Assistant Mayor Patricia Cohen, Councilman Jamie Sanz, Councilman Seth Salver, and Councilman Gabriel Groisman.