Last week, Governor Kristi Noem (R) of South Dakota signed an Executive Order prohibiting state offices from contracting with vendors who do business with private companies that boycott Israel. This signing took place directly before her 2020 State of the State address. When I first read the headline in The Jerusalem Post, I assumed this must’ve been the result of some blatant discrimination towards Israeli-Americans, or perhaps a lawsuit.
I decided to research deeper; this proved difficult as the mainstream media avoided reporting on the event altogether. Most of the information I could find is from boastful, pro-Israel sites rejoicing over this new anti-BDS countermeasure. What are they really bragging about, exactly? Well, it wasn’t about the government no longer “discriminating against Jews.”
What really took place is much less appetizing to me as a small-government conservative. Governor Noem signed an executive order to prohibit state offices from working with private vendors who also do business with other private companies which happen to boycott Israel — the nation of Israel, that is — not Israeli-American citizens, or Jewish people. Whether or not supporting boycotts of Israel is morally right is irrelevant to the dilemma here. It’s about freedom of association and not becoming a nanny state.
Conservatives love boycotts: Nike, Netflix, Hollywood to name a few. They are also generally pro-Israel, as opposed to the Palestine-supporting liberals. Are we supposed to only accept political expression when we agree with it? Should we be meddling in the affairs of private businesses who just want a contract? This seems like an unnecessary expansion of government for little to no reward. Let me reiterate that no one involved has been discriminatory to any American Jews or Americans of Israeli descent. People who question the legitimacy of the Israeli state are just as entitled to their beliefs as us conservatives.
If the state of South Dakota had offices that simply decided to not do business with vendors who boycotted Israel, so be it. But, an executive order to ban vendors who are connected to other companies that participate in a boycott is completely out of line. I will defend freedom and decreased government over the interests of Zionist Republicans, whether I agree with their beliefs or not.