Last night, HBO’s “Vice News” ran a 9-minute news feature on the Arkansas Times‘ federal civil rights lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law that requires state contractors to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel or take a 20 percent discount. You have to have an HBO subscription to watch now; “Vice News” puts epsiodes online a week after they air.

“Vice” interviewed at length Alan Leveritt, publisher and founder of the Times, and state Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs), who co-sponsored the cookie-cutter legislation that became the anti-boycott law.


Asked by “Vice” if his Christian faith played into him sponsoring the bill, Hester said, “I hope my Christian faith influences everything in my life. I’m a believer in the Bible, so I absolutely believe that the Jewish people are God’s chosen people, so I have the responsibility to benefit them where possible.”

“Vice” host Alzo Slade asked why Arkansas was wading into international politics, and Hester compared the Arkansas law to the federal government sanctioning Iran.


“But you’re not sanctioning another country,” Slade said. “You’re sanctioning your own citizens.”

“We are,” Hester said. “We’re sending a message that says, ‘Hey, we’re not going to stand by in Arkansas and let people take our taxpayer money against something that an overwhelming amount of our taxpayers don’t believe in. You can choose to boycott Israel and be in Arkansas. We’re not taking away your First Amendment freedom of expression at all. We’re just not going to do business with you at that point.”


“Vice” also interviewed Rabbi Barry Block of Little Rock’s Temple B’nai Israel, the largest synagogue in Arkansas. Block said while he opposes the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Movement that targets Israel, which this type of legislation is aimed at combatting, he said he was also against the Arkansas law and supported the Times in its civil rights challenge.