FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Bevin on Thursday joined Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, Consul General of Israel to the Southeast United States Judith Varnai Shorer, State Representative Tim Moore, and representatives from the Jewish Community Relations Council and Christians United for Israel to sign an executive order prohibiting state contracts with companies that participate in boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) practices against Israel.
The executive order prohibits Kentucky executive branch agencies from entering into contracts governed by KRS Chapter 45A with entities that engage in discriminatory practices restricting free trade or foster restrictive trade practices against Israel.
“The State of Israel is an important friend and trading partner to the commonwealth,” said Gov. Bevin. “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.”
Kentucky joins 25 other states that have enacted laws or executive orders to prohibit the use of state resources from being used to support BDS practices.
The BDS movement uses boycott-related tactics against Israel to apply economic pressure against the sovereign nation. The executive order states that “the Commonwealth of Kentucky unequivocally rejects the BDS movement and stands firmly with Israel,” noting that BDS practices threaten the sovereignty and security of a United States ally and friend of the commonwealth.
“Boycotting Israel is immoral, as it specifically targets the only democracy in the Middle East, a staunch ally of the United States for decades,” noted Matthew Goldberg, director of community relations for the Jewish Federation of Louisville. “Everyone in the Commonwealth of Kentucky should be proud that we are now on record as officially opposing the demonization of Israel.”
The order recognizes the economic impact of BDS practices on Kentucky’s robust trade relationship with Israel, which resulted in the export of nearly $85 million in goods and services last year. As the 17th largest state exporter of goods in the country, Gov. Bevin noted that Kentucky’s growing economy benefits from free trade that is not hindered or restricted by discriminatory practices. In 2017, exported goods accounted for more than 15 percent of the state’s domestic product, and nearly 4,500 companies exported goods from Kentucky to other countries.
“The Christian community is grateful to Gov. Bevin for his leadership in taking this action to protect Israel from trade discrimination,” said Dave Wicker, Congressional Liaison for Christians United for Israel. “The BDS movement is inherently discriminatory and anti-Semitic and has no place in the Commonwealth. I am proud that Kentucky is taking a stand to oppose religious discrimination against our greatest ally, Israel.”
Gov. Bevin previously joined the governors of all 50 states and the mayor of the District of Columbia in signing the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) “Governors United Against BDS” pledge. The pledge affirms the important relationship between the United States and Israel and rejects BDS efforts to undermine diplomacy by isolating Israel.
In 2016, the Kentucky House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 250, opposing the BDS movement and expressing support for the sovereignty of Israel. State Representative Tim Moore cosponsored the resolution, which noted that, if left unchecked, the BDS movement threatens to weaken the Jewish State.
“I have the great privilege of visiting Israel on a regular basis,” said Rep. Moore. “In both my public and my private life I stand with Israel. The Kentucky General Assembly has indicated its support for America’s most steadfast ally in the Middle East as well; I anticipate passing another Resolution in 2019 declaring Kentucky’s support for Israel. I appreciate Governor Matt Bevin’s willingness to declare by executive order that Kentucky will not support BDS efforts to undermine Israel. The misguided anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist BDS movement will surely fail.”