Kentucky bars state contractors from involvement in Israel boycott


(JTA) — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed an executive order banning the award of state contracts to companies that participate in campaigns to boycott Israel.

Bevin, a Republican, signed the order at a ceremony Thursday at the Kentucky Capitol with Israel’s U.S. ambassador, Ron Dermer, and the consul general of Israel to the Southeast United States, Judith Varnai Shorer, The Associated Press reported.

Executive Order 2018-905 relates to “the prohibition of discriminatory boycotts against Israel and other trade partners in state contracting,” the four-page document says.

“The Commonwealth of Kentucky unequivocally rejects the BDS movement and stands firmly with Israel,” it also states, referencing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Jewish state.

A governmental body “may not enter into a contract” unless it “includes a representation by the contractor that the contractor is not currently engaged, and will not for the duration of the contract engage in the boycott of a person or an entity” with which Kentucky “can enjoy open trade,” the document also says.

Supporters of the BDS movement say it is a nonviolent way to support the Palestinian cause. But Bevin called the movement anti-Semitic and “repugnant.”

Bevin’s office says 25 other states have enacted laws or executive orders to ban the use of state resources to support the BDS movement.

“There should be no question: Boycotting Israel is bad for business, and the majority of states agree,” William Daroff, senior vice president of the Jewish Federations of North America, wrote in a statement.

Kentucky exported nearly $85 million worth of goods and services to Israel last year, the order said.

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