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Meeting Palestinians, Illinois GOP governor candidate seems to oppose anti-BDS laws

Darren Bailey addresses the Palestinian American Club in Bridgeview with a map of Palestine and a Palestinian flag hanging behind him

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent

Republican candidate for governor in Illinois Darren Bailey speaks at the Palestinian American Club in Bridgeview, Illinois, on September 10, 2020. (Palestine TV/Facebook, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Republican candidate for governor in Illinois Darren Bailey speaks at the Palestinian American Club in Bridgeview, Illinois, on September 10, 2020. (Palestine TV/Facebook, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

CHICAGO, Illinois — The Republican candidate for governor in Illinois met recently with representatives of a local Palestinian community and indicated that he opposes legislation passed in the state that targets those who engage in boycotts of Israel.

Darren Bailey was hosted at the Palestinian American Club in Bridgeview, Illinois, and spoke in an auditorium where a map of Palestine and a Palestinian flag hung behind him.

The US-based antisemitism monitoring organization Stop Antisemitism noted in a tweet that the map appearing behind Bailey “erased Israel, depicted the entire region as ‘Palestine’ & restored Golan Heights to Syria,” adding that “Bailey also compared the Holocaust to abortion.”

In a short recording obtained by The Times of Israel, Bailey was asked for his opinion on the controversial legislation, which has been passed in dozens of states across the US. He appeared to be unfamiliar with it and avoided providing an answer.

Supporters of anti-BDS legislation say it targets those who unfairly single out Israel for boycott while opponents argue that it stifles Americans’ right to free speech.

Pressed again for his opinion on the matter during a subsequent interview with Palestine TV, Bailey said, “I’ll always stand [for] the Constitution and it sounds like some of those values are being stepped on right now.

“That’s what’s taking place in every aspect of government with this governor of ours,” he continued, referring to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker. “He doesn’t follow the law, he doesn’t follow the Constitution… The Muslim community, the Arab community will always have a seat with me as we learn together, work together and live together.”

Pritzker does not appear to have taken a public stance on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment clarifying his position on the matter.

In this July 29, 2018, photo, Illinois Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker talks with supporters in Geneva, Ill. New Illinois campaign reports show that Pritzker has pumped $146.5 million of his own money into his bid to unseat Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

However, recent decisions relating to the BDS movement in Illinois have leaned in Israel’s favor.

In June, multibillion-dollar investment research firm Morningstar said it was backing down from selling a human rights research product developed by one of its subsidiaries after an internal review found that it exhibited bias by over-representing firms linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In December, Illinois authorities voted to divest state pension funds from Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, which announced earlier in 2021 that it would cease selling its products in the West Bank.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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