New York Governor boycotts the Boycott

Published June 6th, 2016 - 05:31 GMT
Andrew Cuomo plans to blacklist organisations that participate in BDS (Wikimedia Commons)
Andrew Cuomo plans to blacklist organisations that participate in BDS (Wikimedia Commons)

The movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel has fallen on a stumbling block in New York, after State Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to punish institutions participating in the campaign.

In an Executive Order dated June 5, Cuomo pledges to create a list of organisations that are engaged in BDS, and directs any state bodies to divest money from the organisations accordingly. “If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you.”

The ruling has been slammed by lawyers and activists, with many comparing the policy to those of Joseph McCarthy, whose zeal in pursuing suspected communists in the United States of the 1950s lead to extremes of political repression and fear.

"Governor Cuomo's measure is illegitimate and an obvious pander,” Baher Azmy, Legal Director at the Centre for Constitutional Rights, said. “On substance his 'enemies list' approach to suffocate opinions he and his financial supporters disapprove of is plainly unconstitutional in its McCarthyist vision.”

Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, Rebecca Vilkomerson, said that boycotts have long been a tactic for bringing about change and for social justice, and that the movement for Palestinian rights shouldn’t be singled out.

Cuomo’s move followed his participation in pro-Israel parades, and was praised by Israel’s Ambassador to the USA, Ron Dermer, as well as other officials.

The boycott of BDS has precedent elsewhere in the world: a similar bill was proposed by the British government, which in February expressed intentions to prevent councils and other government institutions from boycotting Israel. The move, however, did not place legal obligations on councils.


Bethan Staton


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