[ Ed. note – A few days ago I reported that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan had signed into law an executive order barring state contracts for any firm supporting a boycott of Israel. Now Governor Scott Walker has done likewise in Wisconsin. It is Orwellian that the politicians pushing these measures justify their actions on the putative premise that they are opposed to “discrimination.” Many of them, however, do just exactly that.
“We stand firmly against discrimination in any form and we wholly support our friends in Israel,” said Walker.
I don’t know if Walker’s “friends in Israel” include Knesset members, but legislation currently under consideration in the Israeli parliament would institutionalize massive discrimination against Palestinians–even more so than what we’ve seen so far–and the hypocrisy on display by politicians like Walker is prodigious.
But maybe there’s more to it than hypocrisy. Maybe there is criminal responsibility. And the question of whether US Congress members, by voting aid to Israel, might not be accessories to war crimes is one that merits pondering–hopefully one day by an international tribunal. That might seem farfetched now, but when an empire is in decline, as the US presently seems to be, a lot can change in a very short amount of time. ]
Wisconsin has become the latest US state to target the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, amid an ostensible crackdown on the activism.
State Governor Scott Walker signed an executive order on Friday night that prohibits state agencies from contracting a business that is “engaging in a boycott of Israel”.
“We stand firmly against discrimination in any form and we wholly support our friends in Israel,” Walker said in a statement after signing the order.
The Wisconsin governor also expressed his support for a bill, introduced earlier this month by a pair of Republican legislator, State Senator Leah Vukmir and State Representative Dale Kooyenga, that would forbid companies that engage in boycotts of Israel from obtaining state contracts.
“Boycotts of Israel must be fought because they do not just attack the Jewish state. This propaganda campaign is also the basis for newly emboldened and destructive anti-Semitic attitudes,” Vukmir said in a press release. “We must support our ally, Israel.”
Although the bill is still being considered, it follows a string of similar legal measures imposed by at least 22 other states across the country.
Rights groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have blasted these measures as unconstitutional and repressive.
On Monday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed an executive order that similarly bans firms that boycott Israel from state contracts.
Last week, the city of Dickinson, situated in Texas, sparked widespread condemnation from rights groups when it conditioned hurricane relief aid on promises that the recipient is not engaging in, and will not participate in, a boycott of Israel. The city later voted to remove the Israel language from the application for private citizens, but will still require companies it contracts to state they do not boycott Israel, local media reported.
Omar Barghouti, cofounder of the BDS movement and a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, said crackdowns on boycott advocates are a kneejerk reaction to the movement’s growing success.
“After losing so many battles for hearts and minds against the fast-growing BDS movement for Palestinian rights,” he told Al Jazeera, “Israel and its massive lobby are desperately trying to stop the movement from above, by passing draconian, unconstitutional laws that evoke the worst memories of McCarthyism.”
Barghouti cited a growing number of churches, unions and university campuses divesting from Israeli banks and international companies that operate in Israel and its Jewish-only settlements throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.