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Wisconsin Governor Walker Signs Law Banning Discriminatory Anti-Israel Boycotts

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on Tuesday signed an anti-Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) bill into law reaffirming the state’s commitment to Israel, the governor’s office announced.

Assembly Bill 553 prohibits any state agency or another governmental entity from adopting a rule, ordinance, policy, or procedure that involves the discrimination against Israel.

“We are committed to maintaining and strengthening our relationship with Israel,” said Governor Walker. “We stand firmly against discrimination in any form, and we are making clear that our state government will not engage with those who boycott Israel.”

Last October, Governor Walker led a 15-member trade delegation to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. At the time, Wisconsin issued Executive Order #261 prohibiting state agencies from contracting with any business entity that engages in a boycott of the Jewish State. “We stand firmly against discrimination in any form and we wholly support our friends in Israel,” Governor Walker explained his decision.

The Israel Project’s CEO and President Josh Block praised Wisconsin’s decision: “The Israel Project is grateful to Governor Walker for his leadership in fighting against BDS discrimination. For years, Israel – and only Israel – has been targeted by this deceptive attempt to delegitimize its very right to exist. BDS proponents do not seek a better life for the Palestinians, nor do they aim to create a political environment favorable to a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors.

“Their true aim is the destruction of the Jewish state,” Block added.

Wisconsin and Israel enjoy a robust trading relationship, with exports totaling more than $80 million annually and importing more than $200 million annually.

To date, 24 states across the country—from Rhode Island to California, from Texas to Minnesota—have passed important anti-BDS legislation. The first states to pass these laws were Illinois and South Carolina, in 2015. Since then, in both blue states and red states, these bills have passed either by unanimous votes or by extremely wide margins, indicating strong bipartisan consensus.

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.

[Photo: GovWalker / YouTube]