Say No to Repressive Legislation in New York State

What is the bill?
Senate Bill S6086 and Assembly Bill 8220 seek to penalize and coercively discourage political action. If passed, this legislation will create a “list” — much like what happened under Senator McCarthy — of persons who act in the interest of Palestinian human rights.

The legislation would create “A LIST OF PERSONS IT DETERMINES BOYCOTTS ISRAEL,” and defines boycotting Israel  as “ENGAGING IN ACTIONS THAT ARE POLITICALLY MOTIVATED AND ARE INTENDED TO PENALIZE, INFLICT ECONOMIC HARM ON, OR OTHERWISE LIMIT COMMERCIAL  RELATIONS  WITH THE  STATE  OF  ISRAEL  OR  COMPANIES BASED IN THE STATE OF ISRAEL OR IN TERRITORIES CONTROLLED BY THE STATE OF ISRAEL.”

Who will it affect?

  • Individuals or Community groups that support Palestinian human rights by supporting a boycott of Israel.
  • Contractors and other businesses seeking partnerships with New York State.
  • Non-profit organizations that receive New York State grants.

In effect, this law would grant the state the power to coerce those who wish to support Palestinian human rights and the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) by denying them partnerships with state agencies. Once implicated, accused persons would be required to submit a written profession that they are not in fact boycotting Israel. The law will also prohibit the investment of state pension funds in companies that boycott/divest from Israel.

Historically, Boycotts have been an important and constitutionally protected tool for challenging repressive state policies. Examples include:

  • Struggle against Apartheid in South Africa
  • The Montgomery Boycott against segregation and racism in the U.S.
  • African American activists using #notadime to encourage a boycott of stores after Thanksgiving to  protest police brutality in the U.S.
  • Calls by climate activists to divest from fossil fuels.

The bill in question is an attack on the growing movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), and if ratified, sets a dangerous precedent that could impact other collective efforts for social justice.

Why BDS?  The real story…
The 2005 call for BDS issued by Palestinian civil society, “calls upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.”

BDS is Not Anti-semitism
The  Bill conflates BDS with anti-Semitism (conveniently failing to note that many in the US who actively support BDS are themselves Jewish). BDS is not anti-semitism because it targets the expanding and illegal occupation by the state of Israel and its military, which uses disproportionate and illegal forms of violence against Palestinian civilians.The Bill advances a willfully skewed version of reality, and seeks to impose repressive measures in order to advance a narrow political agenda.

We, the undersigned, stand opposed to both Senate Bill S6086 and Assembly Bill 8220, and urge others not to be fooled by this attack on a non-violent popular movement to bring about justice and equality in Palestine.

Organizations and groups that support this letter include:

In New York

  • Jewish Voice for Peace- Rochester, NY Chapter
  • Jewish Voice for Peace- Westchester,  NY Chapter
  • Syracuse Peace Council
  • Justice for Palestine (Syracuse)
  • Ithaca Committee for Justice in Palestine
  • Christians Witnessing for Palestine, Rochester, NY
  • Pax Christi Metro New York
  • Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel
  • The Granny Peace Brigade of New York (GPB)
  • Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Church Women United in New York State
  • Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, Albany, NY Chapter
  • Women in Black, Union Square
  • Brooklyn For Peace
  • Palestine Rights Committee (NYS Capital Region)
  • Al-Awda New York: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
  • WESPAC Foundation
  • Green Party of New York
  • Middle East Crisis Response and Hudson Valley BDS
  • Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter
  • New Paltz Women in Black
  • CUNY Law Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, NYC Chapter

    National & out-of-state endorsements
  • US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
  • Philadelphia  Coalition for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel
  • St. Louis Jewish Voice for Peace
  • Labor for Palestine
  • Chico Palestine Action Group
  • Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights
  • Sacramento  BDS
  • BDS Los Angeles for Justice in Palestine
  • Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
  • Hilton Head for Peace (South Carolina)
  • International Action Center
  • Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, San Diego Chapter
  • Bill of Rights Defense Committee & Defending Dissent Foundation
  • War Resisters League
  • Northfielders for Justice in Palestine/Israel (MN)
  • Massachusetts Peace Action
  • United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)
  • Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East- Massachusetts Chapter (UUJME-MA)
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, Milwaukee, WI Chapter

Latest Signatures
1,331Lori NicholsonSurrey, British ColumbiaMar 07, 2016
1,330David CornellCamden, NY New YorkFeb 25, 2016
1,329Mark EassaSyracuse, NYFeb 25, 2016
1,328Lauryn AbdoSyracuse, NYFeb 25, 2016
1,327Sabahat TheemFeb 25, 2016
1,326Don OuderkirkCentral Square, NYFeb 24, 2016
1,325eva essisyracuse, nyFeb 24, 2016
1,324Doris CourgiFayetteville , NYFeb 24, 2016
1,323Ramy SeyamSyracuse, NYFeb 24, 2016
1,322Martha LyonSyracuse , New YorkFeb 24, 2016
1,321Nujoud MakhloufSyracuse, NYFeb 24, 2016
1,320Pia Oste-AlexanderFeb 24, 2016
1,319Joshua SpainCohoes, NYFeb 19, 2016
1,318Ruth RuivivarBellerose, NYFeb 19, 2016
1,317morgan macraepittsford, NEW YORKFeb 12, 2016

Note: On January 20 the New York State Senate passed a different, but similar bill to the one outlined below. S6378a was introduced suddenly and was rushed through the State Senate with no public input ( the Assembly version has yet to pass.)  We understand the above statement to be in opposition, broadly speaking, to any attempt by the State to “chill” political action that is in solidarity with Palestinians’ struggle for justice.  For legal analysis and links to other actions you can take, see Right to Boycott.