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Kansas Governor Signs Bill Outlawing Discriminatory Boycotts of Israel

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday signed a bill barring state agencies from contracting with entities that boycott Israel.

The bill, HB 2409, passed the Kansas senate last Wednesday by a vote of 39 to 3, then passed the state’s House hours later by a vote of 99 to 13.

According to the bill, state agencies may not “enter into a contract with an individual or company to acquire or dispose of services, supplies, information technology or construction, unless such individual or company submits a written certification that such individual or company is not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel.”

The bill explains that these boycotts are problematic as they are imposed “on the basis of such person’s location in such places.”

Similar anti-BDS bills have become law in MichiganPennsylvaniaIllinoisSouth Carolina, ArizonaGeorgia, Colorado, Florida, Alabama, CaliforniaNew JerseyOhio, Rhode Island, Arkansas, Minnesota, Nevada, and Iowa. New York governor Andrew Cuomo approved a similar measure by executive order.

Advocates of these measures have emphasized that they do not raise any First Amendment issues, as private parties are still free to protest, boycott, or speak out against Israel in any way. However, states may be obligated to protect taxpayer money from being used to promote or support discrimination based on religion, race, or nationality.

The passage of anti-BDS legislation reflects an understanding that the campaign “is not like the civil rights protests, as its supporters love to claim, but rather more like the anti-Jewish boycotts so common in Europe in the 20th century, and in the Arab world until this day,” Northwestern University law professor Eugene Kontorovich wrote in The Washington Post in 2015.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political party, the Christian Democratic Union, echoed this criticism in December, passing a resolution stating that the party “declares with this motion its disapproval and rejection of every form of BDS activity and condemns these activities as anti-Semitic.”

Many BDS leaders have publicly opposed the two-state solution and affirmed that the movement seeks Israel’s destruction. Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the movement, said in 2014 that Palestinians have a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance.” Leading activist As’ad Abu Khalil wrote in 2012 that “Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”

[Photo: The Israel Project ]