New Yorkers demonstrated outside the Governor’s office after he signed an unconstitutional executive order against using boycotts to advocate for an end to Israel’s human rights abuses.
Thursday June 9, 2016–Hundreds of New Yorkers demonstrated outside Governor Cuomo’s Midtown offices, outraged by the Governor’s unconstitutional executive order requiring the state to create a blacklist and divest from corporations and institutions that support the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel. Protesters carried signs that read “We will continue to stand for justice and boycott Israel until the Palestinian people achieve freedom, justice, and equality,” in defiance of the attempt to repress the growing movement for Palestinian rights.
Demonstrators called on Governor Cuomo to rescind his executive order.
“We act in solidarity with the Palestinian call for international grassroots pressure on Israel until it complies with international law and ends its ongoing repression of Palestinian rights. We will continue to boycott Israel until Palestinian children can live without fear of imprisonment and torture, until there are no longer separate roadways for Israeli Jews and Palestinians, until Israel stops bombing and killing Palestinians, and until the checkpoints and apartheid wall are dismantled,” said Gabrielle Spears, Jewish Voice for Peace.
Riham Barghouti from Adalah-NY commented, “Like other politicians, Governor Cuomo is finding that blind support of the Israeli apartheid state requires repressive, undemocratic measures. He is attempting to silence the growing number of morally conscientious individuals and organizations that support freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians. We, along with our allies, demand that Governor Cuomo rescind this order punishing supporters of Palestinian rights and BDS.”
“Governor Cuomo’s McCarthyite order calls for a publicly available blacklist of all companies and institutions that support using boycotts to bring about justice for Palestinians,” said Nic Abramson, Jews Say No! “This is a new low for the state-sanctioned backlash against the movement for Palestinian human rights–a movement that is growing and strengthening daily,” he added.
This executive order comes at a time of growing recognition that external pressure will be needed to end Israel’s occupation and repression of Palestinian rights and establish the conditions of equality that are necessary for a just and lasting peace.
BDS is under attack by politicians in Israel, France, the US, and other European countries attempting to impose laws to repress and even outlaw the growing movement for justice. The Israeli government has threatened Palestinian organizers of the BDS movement with “elimination” and effectively imposed a travel ban on one of the movement’s founders, Omar Barghouti.
In the US, bills to limit BDS activities have been introduced in over 20 states, and have been passed in 9 states. Prior to Cuomo’s executive order, two bills to punish BDS supporters had stalled in the New York legislature due to questions about their constitutionality and opposition from New Yorkers who support BDS and are concerned about the threat of the legislation to their civil liberties.
The Palestinian-led civil society BDS movement is modeled on the global campaign that helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. Through boycott and divestment from companies profiting from Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people, boycott of complicit cultural and academic institutions, and sanctions targeting Israel, the movement aims to pressure Israel to respect the basic rights of the Palestinian people, whether living under Israeli military occupation, as unequal citizens within Israel, or as refugees denied their right of return.