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article imageOp-Ed: South Dakota governor's executive order targets BDS movement

By Ken Hanly     Jan 16, 2020 in Politics
On January 14, Kristi Noem the Republican Governor or the US state of South Dakota signed an executive order that prohibits state offices from doing business with any companies that boycott Israel.
South Dakota is the 28th state to target the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Noem's justification
Noem said:
“Israel is one of our nation’s closest allies, and their success is critical to American national security. Today, we reaffirm that South Dakota stands with Israel and will only contract with businesses who agree to fairly compete. Our state will not stand for any discrimination based on race or religion.”
However, it is not clear how BDS actions against Israel are based upon race or religion. They are based upon the actions of Israel against Palestinians as Wikipedia describes the movement: "The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (also known as BDS) is a Palestinian-led[1][2][3] campaign promoting various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets what the campaign describes as Israel's obligations under international law,[4] defined as withdrawal from the occupied territories, removal of the separation barrier in the West Bank, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and "respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties".[4] " There is nothing about race or religion just about the necessity of Israel to meet certain obligations. While some countries oppose BDS it is not surprising that others support the movement including South Africa in which a boycott and divestment campaign helped remove an apartheid government.
One wonders whether other boycott movements are to be targeted. For example Code PInk has a campaign of boycotting and divestment from Saudi Arabia: "It’s time to boycott and divest from the Saudi regime. Musicians should not perform there. Companies should reject any business with the country. Institutions, such as universities and think tanks, should sever all ties. Politicians should not take money or direction from the Saudi lobby. PR firms should drop Saudi Arabia as a client. " Are states now going to pass laws that businesses and individuals who join the Code Pink movement against the Saudis be denied contracts? The Saudis are surely US allies and helpful to the profits of US arms producers as well as a source of oil.
ACLU believes state laws targeting BDS are unconstitutional
In May last year an article noted that laws in three states targeting the BDS movement were unconstitutional: "Last week a federal district court in Texas blocked as unconstitutional a state law that required government contractors to certify that they did not boycott Israel and would not do so over the course of their contract. With courts in Arizona and Kansas issuing similar rulings last year, that’s now three federal courts that have protected the right to engage in First Amendment-protected political boycotts—including boycotts of Israel and Israeli settlements."
In spite of these rulings, several dozen states have gone on to pass legislation against BDS. In July of last year the US House of Representatives passed a resolution that denounced the BDS movement. One of the sponsors of the resolution Brad Schneider said that he was not concerned about the economic impact of the movement but claimed that BDS was attempting to delegitimize Israel. No doubt many states will try to amend their legislation to try to avoid their laws being unconstitutional. There will also be continuing legal challenges in those states who retain anti-BDS laws and regulations.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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