South Dakota Governor Signs Order Barring State from Doing Business with Anti-Israel Boycotters

An hour before giving her State of the State address today, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed an executive order prohibiting state offices from doing business with companies that boycott Israel.

This makes South Dakota the 28th state to either pass legislation or have an executive order prohibiting economic discrimination against the Jewish state through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Last year, the South Dakota House and Senate passed a resolution condemning the BDS movement.

The order applies to expenditures of $100,000 or more with companies or contractors that have five or more employees, requiring vendors seeking contracts with state agencies, authorities, commissions, departments, or institutions of South Dakota to not engage with companies that participate in boycotts of Israel.

The order does not apply to individuals who boycott with their own purchases.

The Commissioner of the Bureau of Administration can waive the order if “compliance is not practicable,” and the order is effective on Feb. 13.

Noem visited Israel in 2013 as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and has been a vocal supporter of Israel.

“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,” said Noem.

“For over a decade, the BDS movement has attempted to erode the confidence in Israel’s legitimacy by inflicting economic harm and limiting commercial relations through boycotts, divesting, and imposing sanctions against Israel,” said Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz, director of the Chabad Jewish Center of South Dakota. “I am grateful that Governor Noem is standing up to this ugly resurgence of anti-Semitism and unjust practice of discrimination against Jews, and for her continued support of Israel.”

“South Dakota has one of the smallest Jewish populations in the nation, yet the state’s strong support for the nation of Israel is unparalleled,” said Stephen Rosenthal, chairman of South Dakotans for Israel. “This action sends a clear message that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in South Dakota.”

“Governor Noem has taken bold action to combat the insidious BDS movement that encourages punitive actions solely against Israel,” said Laurence Bolotin, director of the American Jewish Committee Chicago Region, which covers South Dakota. “BDS proponents do not advance peace at all. Peace only will be achieved in direct bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

Joseph Sabag, executive director of the Israeli-American Coalition for Action, said the order is a blow against discrimination. “This executive order carefully regulates commercial activity, and not the conduct of private speech.  It is similar to many other anti-discrimination laws that protect, among other categories of people, women, racial minorities and LGBTQ individuals.”