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Jimmy Carter Administration: Statement by President Carter Upon the Signing of Anti-Boycott Legislation

(June 22, 1977)

For a number of years, Israel has been engaged in a major campaign to fight the Arab economic boycott, which has been in practice since its establishment. An important achievement was made when President Carter signed an amendment to the Export Administration Act which will prohibit Americans from refusing to do business with blacklisted firms and boycotted friendly countries and from discriminating on the basis of race, sex or national origin. In his statement, the President hoped that "this legislation will help lessen tension in the Middle East and lead to permanent peace in that region."

For many months I have spoken strongly on the need for legislation to outlaw secondary and tertiary boycotts and discrimination against American businessmen on religious or national grounds.

During the campaign I called this a profound moral issue from which we should not shrink.

My concern about foreign boycotts stemmed, of course, from our special relationship with Israel, as well as from the economic, military and security needs of both our countries. But the issue also goes to the very heart of free trade among all nations.

I am, therefore, particularly pleased today to sign into law the 1977 amendments to the Export Administration Act, which will keep foreign boycott practices from intruding directly into American commerce.

The new law does not threaten or question the sovereign right of any nation to regulate its own commerce with other countries, nor is it directed toward any particular country. The bill seeks instead to end the divisive effects on American life of foreign boycott aimed at Jewish members of our society.

If we allow such a precedent to become established, we open the door to similar action against any ethnic, religious, or racial group in America.

This legislation owes much to the hard work of Senators Stevenson and Proxmire, Congressmen Zablocki, Rosenthal, Hamilton, Bingham, Solarz, Whalen, the (Foreign) Relations Committee, and to many others.

It owes just as much to the patient perservance of the Business Round Table, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and the American Jewish Congress, as well as other groups.

The openness of their discussion and the delicate legislative process which shaped this bill has-reconfirmed my own belief in the value of open government.

This cooperative effort between the business community, the Jewish leaders, the Congress and the Executive Branch can serve as a model for what can be accomplished in even more difficult areas, when reasonable people agree to sit down together in good will and good faith.

I am confident that the divisive issues in the Middle East, which give rise to current boycotts, can be resolved equally satisfactorily through a similar process of reasonable, peaceful, cooperation.

My administration will now effectively enforce this important legislation.

I want to congratulate again all the distinguished Americans in the Congress and otherwise who are gathered around me for this ceremony and to express my confidence that the enforcement of this legislation will help to lessen the tensions in the Middle East and hopefully lead to a permanent peace in that troubled region.

Source: Israel MFA