November 16, 2018

Cuomo signs executive order to fight BDS

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday “>passed a bill, sponsored by Senators Jack Martins, a Republican from Long Island, and Simcha Felder, a Democrat from Brooklyn, that prohibits the state from doing business with companies that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. But the bill never progressed in the Democratic-controlled Assembly. “Passing legislation even when you have good intent can often be a tedious affair,” the governor remarked. “And we want to take immediate action because we want the world to know and we want Israel to know that we are on their side.”

Cuomo called on governors from all states to follow his lead and take immediate action to fight the BDS movement. According to the governor’s office, Cuomo has been named as the Co-Chair of the American Jewish Committee’s Governors against BDS initiative. “This order sends the message that this state will do everything in its power to end this hateful, intolerant campaign. New York and Israel share an unbreakable bond and I pray that the Israeli and Palestinian people will find a way to live side by side and find peace, prosperity and security,” he said.

Following his speech, Cuomo marched in the Celebrate Israel parade on fifth avenue, alongside a truck blaring Israeli music. “I am the first governor in the country to sign an executive order saying we oppose the boycott of Israel. I am proud of it  and I hope other states follow our lead,” Cuomo told reporters before marching. “It is very important that Israel is strong, not just for the sake of Israel but for the sake of all democracies. Israel is an important strategic ally of the U.S. And we have to keep that relationship strong. And even in this difficult time of turmoil, I want Israel to know New York stands with them.”

Asked if he has responded to President Obama’s April letter requesting to lift state sanctions against Iran as part of the Iran nuclear deal, Cuomo said: “I would have to check. I don’t know if we have.”

Last month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott “>letter sent to 49 governors on May 31.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan applauded Cuomo for taking action after “it had become increasingly clear that the Assembly wasn’t ready to join us on this critical issue.”

Eric Goldstein, CEO of the UJA-Federation of NY, said in a statement that the executive order “clearly demonstrates the discriminatory nature of BDS against the State of Israel and and we are proud that the Governor of New York State has taken this historic action to stand with Israel and reject the BDS movement.” The Orthodox Union and the World Jewish Congress also released statements commending Cuomo for the historic action.

Senator Chuck Schumer, speaking to reporters at an unrelated press conference on Sunday, said he would seek to introduce the same idea to fight BDS on a federal level. “I think what the governor has done is an excellent idea,” Schumer told reporters. “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. They hold Israel to one standard and hold the other countries, including those who are sworn enemies to Israel, to another standard.”