Guardian corrects false claim about anti-BDS law

A Guardian article written by  former Jerusalem correspondent Chris McGreal (“Rightwing lobby group Alec driving laws to blacklist companies that boycott the oil industry”, Feb. 8) focuses on the  American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), a group which describes themselves as a “nonpartisan organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism”.  McGreal claims that the group is “driving a surge in new state laws to block boycotts of the oil industry”.

But, McGreal also pivots to Israel, claiming that versions of laws drafted by Alec [have been] adopted in more than 30 states to block support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians”.

However, according to communication we had with legal scholar Eugene Kontorovich, professor of law at George Mason and head of the international law department at Kohelet Policy forum, and one of the foremost experts on anti-BDS laws, Alec was NOT in fact responsible for drafting that legislation.

McGreal also errs in the penultimate paragraph of the article, when he writes that the “anti-BDS legislation has faced legal challenges after residents of Dickinson, Texas, were required to sign pledges not to boycott Israel in order to receive hurricane damage relief”.

In fact, as was was widely reported at the time, that requirement, apparently included in error, was promptly removed by city council shortly after it went into effect.

We contacted Guardian editors, who upheld our complaint and amended the sentence, which now reads:

The city of Dickinson, Texas, dropped a similar requirement for residents applying for hurricane damage relief after an outcry.

The following editor’s note was added:

We’ll be following up again with Guardian editors, asking them to provide a source for McGreal’s claim – contradicted by Kontorovich – that the lobbying group Alec drafted states’ anti-BDS legislation.  We also reached out to a spokesperson at Alec, seeking comment.

This article was amended on Feb. 11th to more accurately describe Alec’s mission.

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