The Daily Outrage

The CCR blog

Cuomo BDS Executive Order Points in the Direction of Joseph McCarthy

Readers of CCR’s blog know that a series of state bills have popped up across the country, seeking to punish individuals, companies, and organizations that participate in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel, actions in support of the movement for Palestinian human rights that are modeled after the boycotts that ended Apartheid in South Africa. CCR has engaged in advocacy, including sending letters and submitting legislative memoranda, to oppose such bills in various states. These proposed laws, in turn, are part of an even broader attack on activists in the U.S. fighting for Palestinian human rights. Last month, CCR joined over 100 groups to oppose two bills in New York State that would effectively create blacklists of individuals and entities that boycott companies based in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as well as other “allied” nations. The coalition letter to the New York State legislature noted that such laws would chill constitutionally-protected speech, “intimidating people from engaging in political actions for fear of being blacklisted.” Late CCR President Emeritus Michael Ratner and CCR Board Chair Katherine Franke wrote about one of the bills that had passed the New York Senate for Slate last month. They noted the effects such legislation would have:

“If this bill becomes law, a construction company could not bid on road repair projects in New York state if its owner has personally endorsed an economic boycott of Turkey for that government’s repression of dissidents; a florist that supplies flowers to the governor’s office would be blacklisted and have its contract canceled if the owner has vocally supported a boycott of Italy for its refusal to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples; and the Presbyterian Church (USA) would be blacklisted and could no longer run homeless shelters in New York with public money because of its policy of divesting from companies involved in the demolition of Palestinian homes and the surveillance of Palestinians by the Israeli government.”

Remember that?

Well the bill has not yet been passed by the Assembly—but New York State is blacklisting BDS boycotters anyway. That’s because on Sunday, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo made an end run around the legislature and issued an executive order that requires state agencies to identify all “institutions” (which would include, for example, CCR) or companies and subsidiaries that participates in BDS and put them on a – List.  All state entities must, ironically, divest from any company or subsidiary on this blacklist.  How does one get off the List?  By renouncing, under coercion of the state, support for BDS – a de facto loyalty-to-Israel test.  As CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy noted, “Procedurally, [Governor Cuomo] sought to avoid any transparent debate about the centuries-old validity of boycott as a means of protest in this country. And on substance his ‘enemies list’ approach to suffocate opinions he and his financial supporters disapprove of is plainly unconstitutional.” Or, as Franke said, “Governor Cuomo has decided that his moral compass points in the direction of Joseph McCarthy rather than Rosa Parks.”


Last modified 

June 20, 2016