On Sunday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an unprecedented executive order for agencies under his control to divest from companies and organizations aligned with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (B.D.S.), which puts economic and political pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Palestine. Cuomo announced the order at the Harvard Club in Manhattan, then marched in New York’s Celebrate Israel Parade.
Cuomo told his audience at the private social club, “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you. If you divert revenues from Israel, New York will divert revenues from you. If you sanction Israel, New York will sanction you.”
The order gives the Office of General Services generous leeway to compose a list over the next six months of any groups engaged in, “boycott, divestment or sanctions actively targeting Israel, either directly or through a parent or subsidiary.” The list will be available to the public and be based on “credible information.”
Once all the names are named, executive-branch agencies—including public-benefit corporations, public boards, and much of the state government— will be obligated to divest from any group on the list.
Omar Barghouti, a founder of B.D.S., told the New York Times in an email that Cuomo’s actions are a sign of waning popular support for Israel in New York and beyond, “Having lost many battles for hearts and minds at the grass-roots level, Israel has adopted since 2014 a new strategy to criminalize support for B.D.S. from the top,” Barghouti wrote.
Cuomo has recently made a habit of expressing political solidarity by banning people from doing things. In March, Cuomo, along with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, announced a statewide ban on nonessential government travel to North Carolina to protest the passage of a bill that struck down all of the state’s LGBT anti-discrimination statutes. Cuomo has enacted similar bans on travel to Mississippi and Indiana after these state’s passed laws that protect religious freedom over the rights of LGBT people.
Update: New York Senator Chuck Schumer said on Sunday that he’s so inspired by Cuomo’s blacklist, he’d like to help implement it on a federal level. Schumer told reports “I think that the state (of New York) should not do any business with any company that participates in BDS, and I am looking at introducing a federal law to do the same thing. BDS is a movement that is just totally unfair to Israel.”