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New York governor signs anti-BDS executive order

New York governor signs anti-BDS executive order

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) executive order on June 5. The order, which is also first in the nation, orders state agencies to divest from companies and organizations that are in support of the BDS movement.

Executive Order No. 157 commanded the commissioner of the Office of General Services over the next six months to compile a list of all the business and groups that engage in “boycott, divestment or sanctions activity targeting Israel, either directly or through a parent or subsidiary.”

According to the executive order, all agencies and departments in the executive branch would be required to divest themselves from any company that is on the blacklist, which will be made public. The order states that “The State of New York will not permit its own investment activity to further the BDS campaign in any way, shape or form, whether directly or indirectly.”

Cuomo announced his decision on Twitter when he tweeted, “I am signing an Executive Order that says very clearly we are against the BDS movement. If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you.”

“New York stands in solidarity with Israel today and always. This state will not stand for the politics of discrimination in any form, and we will continue to demonstrate our unwavering support for the people of Israel in the fight for freedom, liberty and democracy,” Governor Cuomo said. “I’m proud to sign this nation’s leading executive order, which will help protect Israel from the threat of divestment. This order sends the message that this state will do everything in its power to end this hateful, intolerant campaign. New York and Israel share an unbreakable bond and I pray that the Israeli and Palestinian people will find a way to live side by side and find peace, prosperity and security.”

A press release from Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel called upon individuals and groups to oppose the order signed by Cuomo.

“The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement calls on people to refuse to do business with institutions that profit from or are complicit with Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. It is both unconstitutional and outrageous that Governor Cuomo has committed the State of New York to punishing those who wish to support basic human rights for the Palestinian people. We must fight together to reverse Governor Cuomo’s dangerous decision,” Adalah-NY’s statement said.

Hundreds of protesters gathered  outside of Governor Cuomo’s  Midtown offices on June 8th. It was organized by Adalah-NY, JVP-NY, and Jews Say No!

Palestine Legal also responded to the Governor’s action in a statement.

“We are actively studying how to challenge this, and other similar laws that have been passed in several states. Part of the problem with it is that it’s impossible to tell how far reaching it can be. Would the state be monitoring groups’ Facebook pages to see if they “promote others to engage” in BDS? What does that even mean? Would it bar a church group from receiving state funds for social services it provides because the church has passed a resolution supporting BDS? It’s an outrageous and unconstitutional effort to leverage the state’s economic power to prohibit speech activities that Israel and many of our elected leaders don’t like,” Palestine Legal Director Dima Khalidi told Palestine in America.

She believes legislations like these are becoming a trend.

“There is clearly a concerted effort by Israel and Israel advocacy groups in the U.S. to push these kinds of laws from the top down, even while the grassroots is increasingly understanding that the status quo on Israel/Palestine is untenable,” she added.

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) East Coast Regional Organizer Alana Krivo-Kaufman told Palestine in America, the order is intended to suppress boycott and divestment campaigns in support of Palestinian freedom and human rights.

“We call on him to rescind it immediately. From the grape workers boycott to the current farmworker led Wendy’s boycott, and from the Montgomery Bus boycotts to the South African anti-apartheid movement, boycotts have been the backbone of social change movements. The movement for Palestinian freedom should not be singled out by the governor for censure of politically protected speech,” she said.

JVP began an action Monday in response to the executive order.

“The goals of the action are to demonstrate the breadth of support for the movement for Palestinian rights and the tactics of BDS in New York state. Working with the statewide Right to Boycott NY coalition we opposed similar legislation, which was effectively stalled in the legislature. The petition calling on Governor Cuomo to rescind his McCarthyite executive order will continue to mobilize state-wide with supporters of Palestinian human rights and all those who support the freedom to boycott,” Krivo-Kaufman said.

The governor’s office did not respond to PiA’s request for a comment.

Rasmea Odeh, supporters head back to court

Rasmea Odeh, supporters head back to court

Rabbi Lerner advocates for Palestinian rights at Muhammad Ali’s memorial service

Rabbi Lerner advocates for Palestinian rights at Muhammad Ali’s memorial service