MADISON – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed an anti-boycott executive order on Oct. 27, just before his trade mission trip to Israel and a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The order prohibits state agencies from entering into contracts with companies that boycott Israel. The move is a clear rejection of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
“Israel is a firm and faithful friend of the United States,” the order reads.
Wisconsin exports over $80 million annually to Israel and imports over $200 million annually from Israel.
“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 are counter-productive to developing a long-term lasting peaceful solution, according to 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,” Rosenthal added.
“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.
Walker in Israel
Walker met on Oct. 30 with Netanyahu to discuss future collaboration between Wisconsin and Israel as well as political and economic issues in the region, according to a news release.
The hour-long, one-on-one meeting in Jerusalem took place during the governor’s Oct. 27-Nov. 3 trade mission to Israel. He led a 15-member delegation on a trip aimed at boosting exports, increasing foreign investment in Wisconsin and developing new partnerships between the state and Israel.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to have a wide-ranging conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu about some of the serious issues facing his country, as well as focus on ways to bolster the strong relationship that already exists between Wisconsin and Israel,” Walker said, according to the release. “Our nation’s commitment to Israel is stronger than ever, and I made it clear to the prime minister that Wisconsin stands by his country as it addresses the many challenges in the region.”
While in Jerusalem, Walker also met with several government leaders, including Michael Oren, deputy minister at the Prime Minister’s Office; Yuval Steinitz, minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, Water; and Avi Dichter, chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
In addition to meeting with government leaders, Walker and First Lady Tonette Walker also led the Wisconsin delegation in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and a tree-planting ceremony at the Kennedy Peace Forest.
The governor and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Secretary and CEO Mark R. Hogan were heading the delegation, which included business leaders from five Wisconsin companies and representatives of the state’s water technology sector.
The governor visited Tel Aviv, where he took part in several events aimed at developing new partnerships in the water technology and technology sectors.
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