By LOUIS FLORES
On Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) signed an executive order instructing New York State agencies to divest from groups that support the campaign calling for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, or BDS, of the State of Israel.
Gov. Cuomo described the intention of his decision as a measure to "protect Israel from threat of divestment," according to a tweet published on Sunday.
The BDS movement has sought to force the State of Israel to comply with, amongst other demands, the Fourth Geneva Convention, an international treaty which bars a nation from transferring its own population from within its own borders into occupied territories. The United Nations made a finding in 2013 that the State of Israel had violated the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of 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. Some BDS activists had viewed State legislative bills bypassed by Gov. Cuomo's executive order as state-sanctioned retaliation against human rights activists supporting the BDS movement. In recent years, the BDS movement has appeared to be gaining steam.
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 reported by Progress Queens, the compilation of this list has First Amendment and Federal prosecution 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.
Because of the outsized roles of each of identity politics and money in politics in the United States, the pro-Israel lobby exerts great political influence over public officials.
The executive order read, in part, "the State of New York unequivocally rejects the BDS campaign and stands firmly with Israel," adding that, "the State of New York will not permit its own investment activity to further the BDS campaign in any way, shape or form, whether directly or indirection."
The executive order signed on Sunday was a way for Gov. Cuomo to usurp the glory of combatting the BDS movement amongst supporters of Israel.
Gov. Cuomo's executive order renders moot, for now, legislative efforts to codify the anti-BDS measure, as reported by Progress Queens.