The governors of all 50 U.S. states on Thursday released a statement strongly denouncing boycotts of Israel as “antithetical to our values and the values of our respective states.”
Governors United Against BDS, a group organized by the American Jewish Committee, pointed out that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign seeks “to isolate Israel—a pluralistic nation with deep cultural, familial, security, educational, scientific and commercial bonds with our state and with the United States as a whole—rather than recognize the profound mutual benefits of our engagement with it.”
The BDS campaign, the governors asserted, “would also undermine peacemaking by suggesting that economic and political pressure on Israel can replace real negotiation.” While a diplomatic solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians remains “painfully elusive,” the governors affirmed their support for two independent states, which should be “achieved through direct, bilateral negotiations.”
“Israel is a robust democracy with many rights and freedoms that do not exist in neighboring countries—or in much of the world,” the governors observed. The BDS campaign’s decision to exclusively attack Israel “while fundamental rights are trampled and atrocities are committed routinely not far beyond its borders,” they noted, “raises serious questions about its motivations and intentions.”
The governors closed by condemning the “virulent movement to promote anti-Israel boycotts … as incompatible with the values of our states and our country.” They also reaffirmed their support for Israel “as a vital U.S. ally, important economic partner and champion of freedom.”
Governors Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Gregg Abbott of Texas are the co-chairs of the effort, which also includes Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C., who serves as the head of the capital’s executive branch.
Abbott signed an anti-BDS bill into law earlier this month, saying at the time that he was “proud” to do it in honor of Israel’s 69th Independence Day.
Other anti-BDS bills have become law in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, South Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, Florida, Alabama, California, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Arkansas, and Iowa. New York governor Andrew Cuomo approved a similar measure by executive order.