TEL AVIV – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order barring agencies under his control from having any business dealings with entities that support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Cuomo made the announcement on Sunday at the Harvard Club in Manhattan before marching in the annual Celebrate Israel Parade later in the day. He called the BDS movement an “economic attack” on Israel.
“In New York, we lead by example. We are also a place of action. We want to take immediate action because we want Israel to know that we are on their side,” the governor said, adding, “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you.”
The executive order – the first of its kind signed by a governor – also demands that a list of businesses supporting BDS directly or indirectly be drawn up over the next six months.
Once the process is complete, “all executive branch agencies and departments — which make up a large portion of state government — as well as public boards, authorities, commissions, and all public-benefit corporations will be required to divest themselves of any company on the list,” according to the order’s first draft published in The New York Times.
“New York stands in solidarity with Israel today and always. This state will not stand for the politics of discrimination in any form, and we will continue to demonstrate our unwavering support for the people of Israel in the fight for freedom, liberty, and democracy,” said Cuomo. “I’m proud to sign this nation’s leading executive order, which will help protect Israel from the threat of divestment.”
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, who last week hosted an anti-BDS conference at the UN General Assembly in New York, praised the order as “another victory in the battle against BDS.”
“Governor Cuomo’s announcement is another effective strike against those seeking to harm Israel,” Danon said. “America is Israel’s largest and most important ally, and the governor’s initiative emphasizes this special bond.”
Alphonso David, an adviser to the governor, told The New York Times that the order will makes New York’s message clear.
“Our position is the BDS movement is deplorable, tailored to penalize Israel, and tailored to inflict economic harm, so we take issue with it,” he said.
He distinguished between seeking a dialogue on Israeli policies and saying, “I’m going to sanction you or penalize you for engaging in commercial activity.”
Cuomo, who is an outspoken supporter of Israel, called on governors from all states to follow his lead and combat the BDS movement. The governor was also 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.