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Dear Senator Stewart-Cousins,
As a constituent I would like to communicate my strongest possible objection to your recent vote in favor of S2492, S2493, and S4837, all springing from a misguided and repressive effort to outlaw Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions – frequently through the camouflage of general penalizing of boycotts – largely on the grounds that BDS is anti-Semitic.
In the first place, as a daughter of the American Civil Rights Movement, how can you forget the role that boycotts – as in the Montgomery Bus Boycott – played in overturning Jim Crow in this country? Do you recall how international boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against South Africa helped to overthrow apartheid in that country? Do you remember that very recently Governor Cuomo backed a boycott against North Carolina because of legislation in that state that discriminated against the LGBT community?
Boycotts are conscientious, nonviolent approaches to promoting political, economic, and social change against perceived injustices. They are Constitutionally protected under the First Amendment. New York State is opening itself to a barrage of lawsuits that will be costly and time-consuming if it persists in this campaign to demonize and penalize BDS and its supporters because of their opinions. BDS calls for the protection of fundamental human rights that are civil rights in this country.
Even when such bills speak more generally about boycotts against American allies, they are aimed at BDS and assert, explicitly or implicitly, that BDS is anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism involves the promotion of hatred and discrimination against Jews as a people. BDS seeks to change Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. The former victimizes a people; the latter criticizes a state. BDS is not anti-Semitic. To assert that it is is dangerously to misuse the term “anti-Semitism” and to engage in specious unreason.
Under international law recognized by the vast majority of nations of the globe, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is illegal, and Israeli treatment of Palestinians is an abuse of human rights. Therefore, supporters of BDS act out of respect for international norms. Why would you assist in enacting NY State laws that contradict international law and moral standards?
BDS attempts to pressure Israel to act in accordance with international law. I have been to the West Bank and E. Jerusalem and observed at close hand in November 2012 what the occupation looks like. It is physically brutal and psychologically Kafka-esque – an arbitrary and cruel imposition of shifting, unpredictable rules and regulations enforced through overwhelming force against a subject people that make their daily life an unrelenting grind. It is a policy of ethnic-cleansing: make life so intolerable that people who can leave do so, and the others drift into hopelessness and despair. That the vast majority of Palestinians resist this abusive regime nonviolently day in and day out is a testimony to their steadfastness in the face of injustice. I was deeply shamed to see the Israeli policies abetted by U.S. connivance. Much of the equipment and weaponry used to enforce the occupation is stamped “Made in America.” This ugly fact does not escape the notice of the peoples of surrounding lands for whom American policy is synonymous with repression and violence.
Members of Jewish Voice for Peace-Westchester would be only too happy to talk with you about Israeli policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and why BDS is probably the best way to bring the change that must come soon, or Israel’s claims to be both Jewish and democratic will be impossible to sustain before the world.
Your record of accomplishments in defending the interests of your constituents is widely recognized.I am deeply disappointed by your votes on S2492, S2493, and S4837 and can only assume that if you had had better information at your disposal, you would have voted against them. I hope that JVP-Westchester can help provide that information and will call your office soon to see about making an appointment for members to meet with you.
Monday, April 3rd at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in White Plains, NY
6pm to 6:30pm light refreshments and networking
6:30pm panel begins promptly
An interactive panel discussion with law enforcement, members of the Albany and Syracuse Civilian Review Boards, and the President of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement including:
Panel will be moderated by Law Professor David Dorfman at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.
This forum is organized and sponsored by the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform https://www.facebook.com/WCPRN
Please share widely:
Rally with us on Monday, March 20th at 12 noon in downtown White Plains to support public education in our next installment of Justice Mondays!
Our vital institution, a cornerstone of our democracy, is under attack at every level. The Trump/DeVos agenda at the federal level, along with the push in Albany to send our tax dollars to charter, private and religious schools together pose an existential threat to public education. Silence equals acceptance. Join us to fight back!
Please share the Facebook event widely: https://www.facebook.com/events/254399864963585/
Groups that are part of the Westchester Social Justice Community:
Call to Action Hudson Valley: Syrian Refugee Crisis: https://www.facebook.com/calltoactionhv/
Community Voices Heard: www.cvhaction.org
Concerned Families of Westchester: https://www.facebook.com/ConcernedFamiliesofWestchester/
Food & Water Watch: https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/state/new-york
Hudson Valley Community Coalition: http://hvccoalition.org/
Lower Hudson Valley Progressive Action Network: https://www.facebook.com/LHVPAN/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE
Mount Vernon United Tenants: http://mvut.org/
Indivisible Rivertowns: https://www.facebook.com/groups/indivisiblewestchesterrivertowns/
Indivisible Westchester: http://www.indivisiblewestchester.org/
Prevent Gun Violence—Westchester: http://www.preventgunviolence.org/
Sustainable Port Chester Alliance: https://www.facebook.com/portchesteralliance/
Up and Up Action Initiative: https://www.facebook.com/UUAction/?fref=ts
Walkabout Clearwater: https://walkaboutclearwater.org/music/home.php
WESPAC Foundation: https://wespac.org/
Westchester for Change: https://www.facebook.com/groups/westchester4change/
Rally at the fountain in downtown White Plains (intersection of Main Street and Mamamaroneck Ave) from 12 noon to 1pm
List of Participating Organizations in the Westchester Social Justice Community:
Community Voices Heard: http://www.cvhaction.or
Concerned Families of Westchester: https://www.faceb
Food & Water Watch: https://www.foodandwate
Hudson Valley Community Coalition: http://hvccoalition
Lower Hudson Valley Progressive Action Network: https://www.facebook.
Mount Vernon United Tenants: http://mvut.org
Indivisible Westchester: https://www.faceb
Prevent Gun Violence—Westchester: http://w
Up and Up Action Initiative: https://www.facebo
WESPAC Foundation: https://wespac.org
Westchester for Change: https://www.facebook.c
Friday, February 10th at 2pm at the Yonkers Riverfront Library
1 Larkin Plaza in downtown Yonkers
This public forum is an introduction of the work of the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform to the Yonkers Community. Speakers include: co-founder of the coalition Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr., who lost his father in a police killing in the City of White Plains in 2011. Also, speaking will be the convener of the coalition, Rev. Doris Dalton, who is also the Executive Director of the Westchester MLK Institute for Nonviolence; Yonkers Community Organizer Hector Santiago and WCPR steering committee member Nada Khader who will speak about WCPR’s April forum on civilian oversight of local law enforcement.
Urge Senator Schumer to
Resist Trump’s Anti-Environmental Agenda and Entire Agenda
Thursday, February 2, 2017
Noon – 1:00 pm
Office of Senator Schumer
1 Park St., Peekskill, NY
Donald Trump’s presidency represents nothing less than an all-out war on our climate, environment, and communities. Tell Senator Schumer that we won’t stand for this!
Trump’s administration of Big Business cronies would protect corporate interests while endangering our water, air, and food, threatening our civil rights and safety, and risking climate chaos.
As the nation’s top Democrat, Senator Chuck Schumer must stand strong against Trump’s catastrophic Cabinet appointments and his climate-destroying plans.
Marking Gun Violence Deaths in Westchester as Legislators Prepare to Vote to Ban Gun Shows on County Properties
Monday, January 9
Front steps of Michaelian Office Building
148 Martine Ave., White Plains, NY 10601
Sponsored by Interfaith Clergy for Social Action and WESPAC
As Westchester County legislators prepare to vote on a bill that would ban gun shows from being held at the County Center on Monday, January 9, Interfaith Clergy for Social Action and WESPAC will gather concerned county residents for candlelight vigil from 6:30-7:00pm.
The Vigil will be a time of prayer, song and silence to show support for the ban and to remember many people killed due to gun violence in Westchester.
At 7:00pm legislators will vote on the bill. If approved, it will be sent to the County Executive who is expected to veto. An override would require 12 votes. The Westchester County Executive lifted the ban in 2010 and a gun show is planned for later in January.
All are welcome to this public witness. Candles will be provided. This vigil has a permit with the City of White Plains.
Additional background in The Journal News, “Lawmakers move to block gun show advances”, Jan. 3, 2017.