Kentucky Governor signs bill that would crack down on BDS movement

On August 27 Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin held a ceremony to officially sign Senate Bill 143. The law allows the state to refuse business from companies that boycott Kentucky trade partners, including Israel. The bill’s supporters identify it as a way for the state to crack down on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The ceremony merely codified an executive order that was signed by Bevin last November. “The State of Israel is an important friend and trading partner to the Commonwealth,” he said at the time. “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 was joined at the signing by Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), Rabbi Shlomo Litvin of Chabad of the Bluegrass, Kentucky State Senate President Robert Stivers (who co-sponsored the bill), and representatives from Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

The ceremony came just weeks after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a resolution condemning the BDS movement, 398-17, and amidst a Republican push to hold a House vote on a bill that would grant states the legal cover to more effectively crack down on the movement. Since 2014, 27 states have adopted anti-boycott laws and Kentucky is 1 of 5 states to have passed the legislation via executive order.

At the signing, Jewish Community Relations Council member Leon Wahba specifically cited CUFI’s local lobbying effort to get the bill passed. “Everything that was said was favorable to Israel and World Jewry,” he said. “Our friends from CUFI have demonstrated to us that they can be counted on to help us advocate for Israel and against anti-Semitism.”

After the executive order in November, CUFI Action Fund Chairwoman Sandra Parker released the following statement: “Kentucky’s action today means that more than half the country has enacted legislation or policies targeting the anti-Semitic effort to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel. We look forward to advancing similar policies across the country and will not stop until the door is shut to BDS in every state in the union.”



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