Wisconsin Governor Bars Contracts With Firms That Boycott Israel

Wisconsin exports over $80 million annually to Israel and imports over $200 million from Israel

Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, speaks during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 20, 2016.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed an executive order that prohibits state agencies from entering into contracts with companies that boycott Israel.

Walker, a Republican who briefly ran for his party’s presidential nomination last year, signed the executive order late on Friday.

“Israel is a firm and faithful friend of the United States,” the legislation reads.

Wisconsin exports over $80 million annually to Israel and imports over $200 million annually from Israel.

>> Helping Israel or causing it harm? U.S. Jewish groups divided over boycott laws >>

The Wisconsin Jewish Federations praised the governor for signing the order.

“The order protects Wisconsin’s economy from efforts to restrict trade with Israel,” said Elana Kahn, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. “It affirms Wisconsin’s economic, business and cultural relationship with Israel.”

“BDS initiatives sever economic ties between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors, and therefore are counter-productive to developing a long-term lasting peaceful solution,” said Hannah Rosenthal, president and CEO of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. “We know that the ultimate goal of boycotting Israel is not to promote peace and justice, nor to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to a solution, but to sow division, shut down exchanges and cooperation, and ultimately to challenge Israel’s legitimacy.”

“By issuing this executive order, Governor Walker and the State of Wisconsin have firmly taken a stand against the boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement and its discriminatory policies against Israeli businesses and individuals, which undermines Middle East peace. Wisconsin is the 24th state to ensure that efforts to isolate and delegitimize Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, are unable to gain a foothold. They are making it clear that supporting Israel is not only in our states interests, but also in America’s interest as well,” said William Daroff, senior vice president of Public Policy at Jewish Federations of North America, in a statement.

The signing of the executive order comes days after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed a similar order.