On Sunday morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order that will halt New York’s business with groups that support the BDS movement against Israel…right before he marched in the “Celebrate Israel” parade.
The BDS movement calls for the boycott, divestment, and sanctioning of companies and products that profit from violating Palestinian human rights.
In the executive order, Governor Cuomo demanded the Office of General Services to provide a list of companies and groups that support BDS, so he can start this process as soon as possible. Discussions and initiatives surrounding anti-BDS bills have been a pressing issue in Congress, and Governor Cuomo sped up the process for New York by signing this executive order. He also urges other state leaders to do the same.
“If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you,” said Cuomo. “If you divert revenues from Israel, New York will divert revenues from you. If you sanction Israel, New York will sanction you. Period.” This was his message to other New Yorkers that morning.
Government agencies that are under his control are now required to divest themselves from companies and organizations that are associated with the BDS movement in any way.
His action and response upset various activists in New York, including our sister, Linda Sarsour.
This was her response on Facebook:
“On a Sunday while you are spending time with your family, some of us are preparing for the start of the holiest month of the year for Muslims – Governor Andrew Cuomo woke up to proclaim he is signing an executive order to punish those who engage in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).
They couldn’t pass it through the state legislature and here we are now. Criminalizing a non-violent response to Israeli oppression and occupation of Palestinians. Democracy?
I thought BDS was ineffective? This just shows that BDS is effective.
This is just outrageous. Like so outrageous. Boycott should be free speech, or so we think. Welcome to America.”
There has also been a large discussion surround the Constitutional premise of this executive order, especially since boycotting has been historically defined as a method of free speech.
Journalist Zaid Jilani tweeted that Governor Cuomo’s action may make New York vulnerable to lawsuits. He also tweeted this excerpt below, which validates the BDS movement’s constitutional right to exist.
The Jewish Voices for Peace chapter of New York City has also shown their disdain with Governor Cuomo’s decision. JVP issued a press release the same day stating, “Boycotts have long been a tactic of social justice movements to bring about urgently needed change for a more just and equal society, and the movement for Palestinian rights should not be singled out.”