Kasich signs Ohio state law banning boycotts of Israel
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Kasich signs Ohio state law banning boycotts of Israel

Bill outlaws official dealings with bodies engaging in embargo; hailed by local leader as strengthening economy, academic freedom

Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich addresses the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) March 21, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)
Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich addresses the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) March 21, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)

Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into law a bill targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

The legislation, which prohibits the state from contracting with companies that engage in boycotts of Israel, including firms located outside the state, and also requires companies to explicitly state in contracts that they are not boycotting or divesting, was signed Monday. It makes Ohio the 14th state to enact such a law.

States that have passed such anti-BDS legislation include Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and South Carolina.

“With Governor Kasich’s signature, Ohio becomes the latest state to stand up against the discrimination based on national origin inherent in efforts to boycott, divest or sanction Israel. It’s also a stand in support of free trade and academic freedom,” Howie Beigelman, executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities, which represents eight Jewish federations and their constituent agencies, said in a statement.

“But Ohio went a step further than anyone else. They included an opportunity for positive investment by the state and county treasurers in certain foreign bonds — including Israel’s — allowing our state to stand with Israel in a meaningful way, helping to create even more business, trade, and research opportunities.”

Ohio House of Representatives Chamber. (Wikipedia/Joshua Rothaas/CC BY 2.0)
Ohio House of Representatives Chamber. (Wikipedia/Joshua Rothaas/CC BY 2.0)

Rep. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, the primary sponsor of the bill, said last month in a statement quoted by the Jewish News that the bill would provide increased economic opportunities for the state.

“Our state’s relationship with Israel generates more than $200 million of economic benefit for Ohio each year,” he said. “This legislation provides more opportunities for Ohio to continue its strong alliance with Israel, as well as bolster our economy here at home.”

The Ohio House of Representatives approved the bill in a 81-13 vote earlier in December.

The ACLU of Ohio has criticiased the legislation, calling “an unwarranted attack on First Amendment rights as it severely restricts the right to speak out or take action based on political beliefs,” in a statement last month.

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