NY Governor to Halt State Business with BDS Supporters

Monday, June 06, 2016 |  Israel Today Staff

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York ordered agencies under his control on Sunday to divest themselves of companies and organizations aligned with a Palestinian-backed boycott movement against Israel.

Mr. Cuomo made his announcement in a speech at the Harvard Club in Manhattan to an audience including local Jewish leaders and lawmakers, describing the BDS movement as an “economic attack” on Israel. “We cannot allow that to happen,” the governor said, adding that, “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you.”

Several states have recently moved to support Israel and prevent their governments and agencies from doing business with companies or individuals that endorse the boycotts. Similar bills have been introduced in both houses of the New York Legislature, and a Republican-sponsored bill passed the State Senate in January.

On Sunday, Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, flexed his executive power saying he wanted “immediate action” against BDS, while challenging other governors to follow suit.

Mr. Cuomo’s signed the executive order just before he marched in the Celebrate Israel parade in New York.

The BDS movement, started in 2005, has become a contentious issue on some American college campuses and beyond. Supporters say the campaign aims to pressure Israel economically over its treatment of Palestinians and to further Palestinian independence. Opponents say the efforts are a thinly disguised, anti-Semitic attempt to deeply hurt or even destroy Israel.

Omar Barghouti, a founder of the BDS movement, said he did not find the actions by states like New York surprising, calling such proposals part of Israel’s “legal warfare against BDS.”

The counsel to the governor, Alphonso David, said in an interview that the executive action was meant to send a clear message that “the BDS movement is deplorable.” He added that the governor’s order is meant to assume a position on a movement that “the State of New York unequivocally rejects,” as the order puts it.

According to the executive order, Mr. Cuomo will command the commissioner of the Office of General Services to devise a list over the next six months of businesses and groups engaged in any “boycott, divestment or sanctions activity targeting Israel, either directly or through a parent or subsidiary.”

Once the designation process is completed, however, all executive-branch agencies and departments — which make up a large portion of state government — as well as public boards, authorities, commissions and all public-benefit corporations will be required to divest themselves of any company on the list.

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