With billionaire Sheldon Adelson planning to invest millions in campaigns combating the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel, a phenomenon that Prime Minister Netanyahu recently described as a “great struggle being waged against the State of Israel,” it’s easy to forget that the movement still hasn’t really gotten off the ground. In fact, last week the preliminary job has become even harder for BDS proponents after the New York State Assembly passed a resolution denouncing the boycott for exacerbating the tension between Israel and Palestine. The resolution states:
That this Legislative Body is concerned that the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and its agenda are damaging to the causes of peace, justice, equality, democracy, and human rights for all peoples in the Middle East.
The resolution also affirms the “long history of friendship” between the State of New York and Israel “based on economic, cultural, intellectual and political cooperation and exchange.”As well, it puts forth that the Assembly will oppose “all efforts to assault the legitimacy of Israel as the sovereign homeland of the Jewish people.” The resolution was sponsored by Assemblyman Walter Mosley of Brooklyn’s District 57, and was co-sponsored 74 other members. According to StandWithUs, it was passed almost unanimously within the state Assembly; an official anti-BDS bill is expected to follow.
The New York Assembly’s resolution follows in the footsteps of Illinois and South Carolina, which recently passed bills cracking down on BDS participation. In May, Illinois state passed a bill banning state pension funds from investing in foreign firms that support the movement. And earlier this month, South Carolina introduced a law that bans state agencies from working with businesses that boycotts others “based on race, color, religion, gender, or national origin.” Indiana and Tennessee have also passed similar measures.
Assemblyman Mosley told me he felt proud not only to have sponsored the resolution but also because 99% of Assembly members “voted in the affirmative.” He said that legislation is a logical step in “declaring our support for Israel.” He speculated on future anti-BDS legislation that would require state organizations to themselves divest from companies that support the movement. In other words, a boycott of the boycotters.
Jas Chana is a former intern at Tablet.