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Wisconsin becomes latest US state to target firms boycotting Israel

File photo of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Wisconsin has become the latest US state to join the crackdown against a Palestinian-led campaign boycotting Israel.

Governor Scott Walker signed an executive order prohibiting state agencies from engaging in business with entities that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

"We stand firmly against discrimination in any form and we wholly support our friends in Israel," Walker said in a statement on Friday. “I look forward to leading a trade delegation to Israel to foster new trade partnerships between Wisconsin and Israeli businesses.”

The Republican governor also threw his weight behind legislation, introduced this month by a pair of state legislators, which would bar companies engaged in boycotts of Israel from getting state contracts.

Walker said that trade between his state and the Israeli regime was flourishing, “with Wisconsin exporting over $80 million annually to Israel and importing over $200 million annually from Israel.”

Wisconsin is the 24th US state to take measures forbidding the state from doing business with companies targeting Israel as part of the BDS movement.

On Monday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued a similar executive order that banned firms that boycott Israel from state contracts.

Last week, the city of Dickinson, Texas, sparked widespread condemnation when it required residents to sign a no-boycott pledge in exchange for disaster aid to recover from Harvey, a devastating hurricane that made landfall in August.

David Olson, an attorney for Dickinson, said city officials were following a Texas law that prohibits state agencies from contracting with or investing in companies that boycott Israel.

Rights groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have condemned these measures as unconstitutional and repressive.

The BDS itself says that such a crackdown on boycott advocates is indicative of the movement’s fast-growing success.

The movement was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations to initiate “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”

Thousands of volunteers worldwide have joined the BDS to help promote the Palestinian cause, including scores of international trade unions, NGOs, scientific institutions, academic societies, business associations and cultural figures.

The BDS campaign is also gaining momentum on US college campuses and churches.

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