On Sunday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order “directing state agencies and authorities to divest public funds supporting [the] BDS campaign against Israel.”
Speaking at the Harvard Club just a few hours before he was set to walk in the Celebrate Israel Parade, Cuomo announced to a group of local and national Jewish leaders that the Office of General Services will put together a list of businesses and groups associated with the BDS movement over the next six months. Prior to the finalization of the list, any included entities will have a chance to appeal their position. That day, Cuomo tweeted: “If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you.” On Facebook he wrote:
New York stands in solidarity with Israel today and always. 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.
The move was not without controversy; nary is the case with BDS-related news. The founder of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti told The New York Times that such actions are undertaken to “shield Israel from accountability,” undercutting a “time-honored tactic of resisting injustice in the U.S.” According to Salon, several national legal groups, including Palestine Legal, “say these politically motivated anti-boycott policies constitute an unconstitutional attack on the freedom of speech.”
But at face value, Cuomo’s announcement move shouldn’t be particularly surprising. New York’s anti-BDS executive order has been moving through the state legislature for months, and Cuomo, a long-time advocate for Israel, has shown a willingness to flex his executive muscle in recent months. Bills of a similar bent are making their way through state legislatures across the country, as well as in Congress.
Jesse Bernstein is a former Intern at Tablet.