Andrew Cuomo might be the governor of New York, but he is doing his best to protect Israel, too, even if that means curtailing free speech (video below).
The Democratic governor signed an executive order for agencies under his control to divest themselves of companies and organizations aligned with a Palestinian-backed boycott movement against Israel, reports The New York Times.
The BDS movement, which encourages companies and organizations to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel because of its military occupation of Palestine, has grown in popularity in recent years, including on college campuses. But both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have sought legislation to fight back against the movement, with Cuomo being the latest high-profile politician respond.
“We cannot allow that to happen,” the governor said, adding, “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you.”
Baher Azmy, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, said Cuomo's order is a violation of the First Amendment.
"Cuomo's action has the ugliest attributes of McCarthyism: identifying organizations that engage in speech we dislike and, 'Let's blacklist them,'" said Azmy, according to the Associated Press. "This is a well-orchestrated, well-funded, organized strategy to disproportionately punish U.S.-based activists. Really ugly."
Adalah-NY, the New York campaign for the boycott against Israel, issued a statement condemning Cuomo's executive order.
“Boycott is an effective moral strategy that has been used to advocate for justice from Montgomery, Alabama to the fields of California, from Arizona to North Carolina to South Africa,” the statement said. “Just two months ago, Governor Cuomo himself effectively acknowledged boycott’s power to support human rights by banning taxpayer-funded trips to North Carolina to oppose the state’s discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Whether struggling for freedom for African Americans, farm workers, immigrants, trans people, South Africans, or Palestinians, we must stand together to affirm our right to engage in political action.”
In January, Human Rights Watch published a 162-page report on the legality and working conditions of factories in the occupied territories.
“Settlement businesses unavoidably contribute to Israeli policies that dispossess and harshly discriminate against Palestinians, while profiting from Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and other resources,” said Arvind Ganesan, director of the business and human rights division. “The only way for businesses to comply with their own human rights responsibilities is to stop working with and in Israeli settlements.”