FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Gov. Matt Bevin signed an executive order banning state agencies from contracting with companies that engage in boycott, divestment, and sanction practices against Israel during a Thursday ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda.
“The BDS movement sounds innocuous itself, and may not seem worthy of sounding an alarm, but it’s repugnant,” Bevin said. “It is morally reprehensible, and it should be called out for what it is at every turn.”
Bevin said he was pleased to be one of the first to sign a letter againt BDS, which was eventually signed by all 50 governors and the mayor of Washington, D.C. “But a letter, in and of itself, is just a letter. An executive order is just an executive order,” he said. “Although there are a number of states that have done this, there are very few that have codified calling out this BDS movement as the discrimination that it is, into law.”
The highlight of the order, according to Bevin, “is we will in no way, shape or form accept the type of anti-Semitic indications that BDS would have us play along with. And it decries it specifically, calls it out for what it is.”
Bevin says 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, the governor 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.
Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador to the United States, thanked Bevin for his support of his country, and against BDS. “BDS is a moral assault against Israel. It is an attempt to turn Israel, the one and only Jewish state, into a pariah state among nations.”
Dermer said Anti-Semitism has come back “and it’s come back with a vengeance. It’s not a new problem, as it’s been going on for about 2,500 years. But the return of anti-Semitism is a global phenomenon that we’ve seen in the last 20 years.”
The Ambassador quoted from FBI statistics saying anti-Semitic hate crimes made up 60 percent of all anti-religious hate crimes and told Bevin his signing of the executive order was important.
“You’re sending a message that there is no place for anti-Semitism in Kentucky and the anti-Semites are not welcome in the bluegrass state,” he said.
Dermer noted the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Rotunda, whom he called the greatest American president. “He was great, because he knew the difference between right and wrong, and he knew the difference between good and evil. And what you’re doing today, Governor, is you’re showing that you too know the difference between good and evil, between right and wrong.”