Dear Governor Wolf, Attorney General Shapiro, and Treasurer Garrity,

The House and Senate overwhelmingly passed, and Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 163 of 2016, formerly House Bill 2107, to ensure the anti-Semitic activities of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, does not take root in Pennsylvania.

As a county commissioner, Attorney General Josh Shapiro made these comments as the House was debating the original bill: “The BDS movement is a real threat as it fosters lies about Israel which in turn undermines Israel’s security. … Support for Israel should be a bipartisan issue,” Anti-BDS Bill Gains Swift Clearance in Pa. House - Jewish Exponent.

As you know, the Jewish people faced oppression and discrimination wherever they lived, from expulsions, pogroms, forced conversions and genocide. Less than 80 years ago, the latest attempt at total Jewish destruction – the Holocaust – was defeated. Afterward, the world voted for and recognized the State of Israel, where Jews inhabited the land for a millennium.

Israel's Declaration of Independence states that Israel will guarantee the “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

These are the same values we hold in Pennsylvania, in fact, you could say we were founded upon these same principles. As Israel in the only nation in the Middle East to ensure these rights, it is in our interest to ensure Israel’s fair treatment.

Ben & Jerry’s announcement of boycotting sales in parts of Israel, and not renewing its licensing agreement, triggers Act 163, which specifies that it is “in the interest of the United States and the Commonwealth to stand with Israel and other countries by promoting trade and commercial activities and to discourage policies that disregard that interest.”

As such, I call on the three of you to ensure Pennsylvania state government, agencies and affiliates, including the Pennsylvania Turnpike, State System of Higher Education, state-related universities, parks, prisons, and others end any affiliation or serving of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

While Ben & Jerry’s surrendered to a continuous and aggressive campaign from extreme anti-Jewish and anti-Israel groups, doesn’t mean we should condone it. We must work together, enforce the law and stand with Israel.


Aaron Kaufer
Pennsylvania State Representative
120th District