Shamelessly appealing to crass identity politics and to a powerful lobby, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) on Sunday signed an executive order, instructing state agencies against doing business with companies that participate in the growing movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, or BDS, against the State of Israel.
As reported by Progress Queens, controversy about the executive order matches controversy attached to similiarly-intentioned, proposed state legislation, namely, that a state official will be tasked with compiling a list of companies that participate in BDS activities, and those companies will be barred from doing business with New York State. As further reported by Progress Queens, the compilation of this list has First Amendment and Federal prosecutorial implications for human rights activists and opens New York State government officials to charges that they are engaged in a modern-day version of McCarthyism, or the making of baseless allegations against citizens for purely political reasons.
Ignoring Israel's deadly human rights record, Gov. Cuomo defended his action as a measure to "protect Israel from threat of divestment."
In signing the executive order, Gov. Cuomo is whitewashing Israel's horrendous human rights record.
Activists for peace and equality around the world have accused the State of Israel of violating the human rights of Palestinians by building settlements in Palestinian territories in order to ruin any chances for the formation of a Palestinian state.
The 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, initiated by an Israeli missile strike, claimed the lives of over 2,000 Palestinians and 73 Israelis, according a report published online by the BBC. Israeli military offensives act to keep Palestinians engaged in armed conflict, such that public opinion is influenced to portray Palestinians as the cause of terrorism, necessitating, in turn, further settlements, which are further justified as a security measure.
The on-going human tragedy, in particular the 2014 offensive, triggered waves of condemnation, including a march in the Upper West Side of Manhattan attended by dozens and organised by the group, Jewish Voice for Peace, New York City Chapter, on 26 August 2015.
As reported by Progress Queens, the BDS movement has been snowballing, particularly after a finding by the United Nations in 2013 that the State of Israel had violated the Fourth Geneva Convention, a treaty which bars a nation from transferring its own population from within its own borders into occupied territories. The violations stem from settlements in the West Bank.
The BDS movement has been modeled on the successful movement to end apartheid in South Africa, and the BDS movement has been making strides in pressuring Israel to confront its record of human rights violations. Gov. Cuomo's executive order and the now-moot proposed legislation pending before the New York State legislature are evidence of retaliatory moves against activists supporting the BDS movement by political figures with close ties to the influential Israeli lobby. During Gov. Cuomo's 2014 reëlection campaign, he traveled to Israel in blatant appeal for Jewish votes as he was fighting off an insurgent challenger, Fordham Law School professor Zephyr Teachout.
Gov. Cuomo's embrace of state-sponsored retaliation against human rights activists should be met with the strongest form of condemnation, given Gov. Cuomo's McCarthyite political machinations.
Until the State of Israel complies with the Fourth Geneva Convention, activists must continue to bravely support the BDS campaign targeting the State of Israel, and activists must now begin a boycott of New York State, as well, in response to Gov. Cuomo's controversial executive order.
-- Progress Queens