Israel

Governor Signs Order Barring Kentucky from Doing Business with Entities That Boycott Israel

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has signed an executive order to ban the award of state contracts to companies that participate in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported Friday.

Bevin, a Republican, said upon signing the directive that “We will not allow state resources to benefit entities that intentionally engage in discriminatory practices to harm the sovereignty and economic prosperity of any ally nation. Today’s executive order makes it clear that Kentucky condemns the BDS movement and that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our friend, Israel.”

Bevin signed the order during a ceremony on Thursday at the Kentucky Capitol with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and Consul General of Israel to the Southeast United States Judith Varnai Shorer. Also in attendance were representatives from the Jewish Community Relations Council and Christians United for Israel.

Under the new executive order, state agencies will not do business with companies participating in the discriminatory boycotts movement, and no Kentucky tax dollars will go to support this form of anti-Semitic hatred.

Executive Order 2018-905 relates to “the prohibition of discriminatory boycotts against Israel and other trade partners in state contracting,” the 4-page document says. “The Commonwealth of Kentucky unequivocally rejects the BDS movement and stands firmly with Israel.”

According to the figures from the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), in 2016, trade between the U.S. and Israel totaled $35,400,100,000. From across the nation, states trade in the millions and billions of dollars with Israel. California exported $2,034,744,502 to Israel; New York $4,894,392,939; and Kentucky exported almost $85,000,000 to Israel in 2017.

Responding to Kentucky’s decision to sign the anti-boycott legislation, Josh Block, CEO and President of The Israel Project, issued the following statement:

“The Israel Project is grateful to Governor Bevin for his strong 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 noted further that, “From the North to South, in blue and red states – and with strong bipartisan support – lawmakers in 26 states have now declared BDS a form of discrimination and sent a clear signal that their states will not tolerate or condone taxpayer dollars going to subsidize anti-Israel hate. Kentucky, being the 26th state to oppose BDS sends a strong message to the rest of the country and, indeed, the world.”

To date, 26 states across the country—from Rhode Island to California, Texas, Florida and Minnesota—have passed groundbreaking anti-boycott legislation. The first states to pass these laws were South Carolina and Illinois 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.

[Photo: Governor Matt Bevan / Twitter ]