NY Wants to Tell You What You Can and Cannot Boycott

It is very disappointing that our local NYS Assembly Member David Buchwald is a co-sponsor of A8220.  I am trying to set up a meeting with him.  If you are in his district and would be willing to attend this meeting, please let me know.  In the meantime, please do be in touch with your state representatives on this free speech matter.  The NY State Senate passed a bill last week that will create a blacklist of individuals and institutions that are engaged in a boycott of a U.S. ally.  55 NY state senators voted in favor and 6 senators voted against

These six NYS Senators who voted against are all African American and Latino.

  1. S.6378A/A.9036 — applies to boycotts of “ally” countries, including Israel (This bill is moving)
  2. S.6086/A8220 — applies specifically to boycotts of Israel
  • These bills infringe on our First Amendment rights to free speech by 1) creating a blacklist of individuals, companies, and nonprofits that boycott Israel because of its human rights abuses; 2) denying those on the blacklist the opportunity to do business with New York, and 3) requiring the state’s public pensions to divest from businesses that boycott Israel.
  • The Supreme Court has long held that boycotts to bring about political, social, and economic change are protected under the First Amendment. In fact, our country has a proud history of protecting boycotts as a form of political speech – from pre-Civil War boycotts against slavery to the Montgomery bus boycotts during the Civil Rights Movement to the boycott of apartheid South Africa.
  • New York should be a leader on human rights issues. It has no business shielding Israel from boycotts protesting human rights abuses and settlements, which are considered illegal under international law and violate official US policy going back decades.
  • Even Human Rights Watch recently issued a report calling for companies to cease doing business with illegal Israeli settlements. Incidentally, Human Rights Watch, one of the most respected human rights defenders in the country, would be blacklisted under these bills.
  • Our state legislature should be passing laws that protect our First Amendment rights, not laws that restrict those rights.
  • As someone who supports the BDS movement, I would be blacklisted by the State of New York if these bills pass.
  • Efforts such as these to punish individuals who choose to engage in boycotts to protest Israeli human rights abuses have an unconstitutional chilling effect on the First Amendment right of all Americans to engage in human rights boycotts of any kind.

 

Take Action: Tell Your Assembly Member to Vote No on A9036

The New York State Senate believes that it has the right to tell you which countries you can boycott and which you can’t. And if the Senate disapproves of your choice, then they’re going to punish you. That’s the McCarthyist gist of an ill-considered bill—S6378A—that was rushed through the legislative process and adopted by the New York State Senate last week. Under this bill, individuals, corporations, and nonprofits which boycott a country (or companies based in that country) from a random list of “allied nations” will be ineligible to contract with the state. The state will also divest its holdings from any corporation which boycotts an “allied nation.” And, as you may have guessed, Israel is on the list. We’ve got to stop this First Amendment-shredding bill from becoming law.

Call and write your Assembly member today opposing A9036, its version of the Senate bill.

The Assembly could vote on this bill at any time, so please take action right now! These bills are so broad that New York would punish you for advocating for a boycott of Turkey because it uses US weapons to commit human rights abuses against Kurds, or for advocating for a boycott of Colombia because it uses US weapons to commit atrocities against its citizens. And of course it would punish you for advocating for a boycott of Israel because it uses US weapons to inflict systemic human rights abuses against Palestinians.  It would bar United Methodist Churches from contracting with the state to run homeless shelters and soup kitchens because the church supports the boycott of Israeli settlement goods. And it would prevent New York from investing in corporations which have severed their complicity with Israel’s oppression of Palestinians in response to boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigning.  It would even punish people who advocated for a boycott of a particular US state over its anti-immigrant rights or homophobic positions!  No, we’re not exaggerating—engaging in boycotts of a NATO member state, a coalition which includes the United States, would be punishable by law. The Supreme Court held in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. that a boycott of businesses to advance racial justice “clearly involved constitutionally protected activity” through which the NAACP “sought to bring about political, social, and economic change.” It concluded that boycotts constitute a political form of expression which “occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.” Let’s not allow legislators in Albany to violate the First Amendment by trying to tell us what we can or can’t boycott. Contact your Assembly member today to oppose A9036. Thanks for taking action. Sincerely, Josh Ruebner Policy Director PS: This bill and the one passed last week in the Senate (S6378A) are in addition to other anti-BDS legislation in New York (S6086 and A8220). We’re keeping an eye of these pieces of legislation too and we’ll let you know if Albany tries to pass these bills as well.  PPS: Like most of the federal- and state-level anti-BDS legislation we’ve seen over the past year, this New York bill attempts to blur the distinction between Israel and its illegal occupation and colonization of the Palestinian West Bank by punishing people who boycott companies in “territories controlled by an allied nation.” After Congress passed similar legislation last year, the Obama administration stated that it “does not pursue policies or activities that would legitimize” Israel’s settlements, as this New York bill attempts to do. – See more at: http://endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=4640#sthash.yT3vJSj0.dpuf

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