Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has signed an executive order banning any state contracts with companies that support a boycott of Israel, at the same time as it regards the anti-Semitic and "disgusting" BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement.
Bevin signed the order Thursday during a ceremony at the Kentucky Capitol with Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer and Israel's Southeastern US Consul Judith Varnai Shorer.
Bevin called the movement anti-Semitic and "disgusting." He referred to passages from the book of Ezekiel in the Bible about being a lookout, saying that Kentucky was watching and sounding the alarm.
"The State of Israel is an important friend and trading partner of the Commonwealth," Bevin said. "We will not allow state resources to benefit entities that intentionally engage in discriminatory practices to undermine the sovereignty and economic prosperity of any allied nation. Today's executive order makes it clear that Kentucky condemns the BDS movement and that we stand side by side with our friend Israel. "
Dermer thanked Bevin for "making it clear that anti-Semites are not welcome in the Bluegrass State."
The executive order states that "the Commonwealth of Kentucky unequivocally rejects the BDS movement and stands firm with Israel," noting that BDS practices threaten the sovereignty and security of a US ally and friend of the Commonwealth.
"Boycotting Israel is immoral, as it specifically targets the only democracy in the Middle East, a strong ally of the United States for decades," noted Matthew Goldberg, director of community relations at the Jewish Federation in Louisville. "Everyone in the Commonwealth of Kentucky should be proud that we are now registered as officially opposing the demonization of Israel."
Kentucky has a strong trade relationship with Israel, which has resulted in the export of nearly $ 85 million in goods and services last year. As the 17th largest exporter of goods in the country, Bevin noted that Kentucky's growing economy benefits from free trade that is not prevented or restricted by discriminatory practices.
By 2017, exported goods accounted for more than 15 percent of the state's domestic product, and almost 4,500 companies exported goods from Kentucky to other countries.
"The Christian community is grateful to Governor Bevin for his leadership in taking such action to protect Israel from trade discrimination," said Dave Wicker, Congressional Representative for United Christians for Israel. "The BDS movement is inherently discriminatory and anti-Semitic and has no place in the Commonwealth. I am proud that Kentucky is positioning itself to oppose religious discrimination against our greatest ally, Israel. "
Bevin has joined the governors of all 50 US states and the Mayor of the District of Columbia by signing the pledge "United Governors Against BDS."
In 2016, the Kentucky Chamber of Deputies adopted House Resolution 250, opposing the BDS movement and voicing support for Israel's sovereignty. State Rep. Tim Moore co-sponsored the resolution, which noted that, if unchecked, the BDS movement threatens to weaken the Jewish state. (UWI)