Montana House advances bill prohibiting state from businesses that boycott Israel

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The Montana House advanced a bill that would prohibit the state from doing business with companies that boycott Israel.

The bill passed a second reading the House on Saturday by a vote of 59-41. It must still pass a third reading before it leaves the House.

The bill would prevent public agencies, including city and county governments from doing businesses with companies that don’t agree to certify in writing that they are not engaged in a boycott of Israel. It also would order the Montana Board of Investments to stop working with that support a boycott of Israel.

If the bill also passes the Senate, Montana would become to 15th state to pass such a bill. Other states that have passed anti-boycott bills include Ohio, Michigan and California,

The bill was introduced by Republican House Speaker Austin Knudsen. He told the Associated Press that his interest in a bill preventing a boycott of Israel came before the recent attacks on the Jewish community of Whitefish, Montana.

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

The neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer published a blog post in December calling for followers to “take action” against Jews in Whitefish by writing and calling them with anti-Semitic messages. The post claimed that Jewish residents were “threatening” the local business run by the mother of Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank.

Andrew Anglin, who runs Daily Stormer website, announced the following month that he would hold a neo-Nazi armed march designed to harass the Montana Jewish community of Whitefish. The march was later postponed over a lack of a permit to hold the march. He said he would hold the march at a later date and that it “will be bigger and have more guns and special guests than we originally planned.”

There are about 100 known Jewish households in Whitefish and nearby Kalispell, part of the Flathead Valley.

Whitefish has a population of about 6,000 full-time residents and is home to a ski resort on Big Mountain called Whitefish Mountain Resort.