A Wisconsin bill prohibiting state agencies from contracting with companies boycotting Israel passed the State Senate Tuesday.
Any company providing materials, supplies, equipment or services to state agencies would be compelled to stop participating in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. This movement works to “end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law” by having companies, institutions and governments isolate Israel economically, according to the movement’s website.
Before the bill becomes law, it must pass the State Assembly and be signed by Gov. Scott Walker, but the governor has already made his position against BDS clear — he signed an executive order prohibiting companies contracted with state agencies from boycotting Israel in October 2017.
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According to Walker’s executive order, Wisconsin currently exports more than $80 million a year to Israel and imports more than $200 million a year from Israel.
Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, authored the bill and co-sponsored it along with four other Republican senators. According to a press release from Vukmir, the bill “strengthens our bond” with Israel.
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“I am proud to have authored this bill standing with our friend and ally Israel,” the press release said. “The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement is an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel campaign that promotes division.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, nearly half of U.S. states have signed similar anti-BDS legislation since the movement’s founding in 2005.
In April 2017, Associated Students of Madison considered approving a proposal requesting the University of Wisconsin divest from several Israeli companies, but the group amended the proposal so it would not include specific mention of Israel or BDS, for fear it would alienate Jewish students. The proposal, which was later amended to once more include Israel, eventually passed unanimously.