Media Spotlight: Gov. Cuomo’s Blacklist Ridiculed in Media

Late Friday evening, December 2, with no fanfare, press release, or announcement, New York State released Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Blacklist of institutions that participate in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns in support of Palestinian human rights.

Despite its quiet release, Gov. Cuomo’s blacklist garnered significant media scrutiny and criticism. Below are several media results influenced by Palestine Legal or quoting Palestine Legal attorney Radhika Sainath.

In the New York Post, Carl Campanile wrote, “None of the businesses are American, and state officials said Friday night that they did not believe any state agency has financial dealings with them. So it’s basically a political gesture supporting Israel.”

Radhika Sainath was quoted in the piece, saying, “State blacklists reminiscent of the McCarthy era have no place in a democracy. The Supreme Court has made this crystal clear: boycotts to effect political, social and economic change are protected by the First Amendment.”

In The Village Voice, Aviva Stahl quoted Sainath saying, “The notion that this is anything but a boycott by principled human rights activists to advocate for change in Palestine is just a PR tactic by pro-Israel advocacy groups . . . Governor Cuomo’s father, Governor Mario Cuomo, endorsed the boycott of Apartheid South Africa. No one said that this was a discriminatory boycott.”

In Jezebel, Brendan O’Connor quoted Sainath saying, “Boycotts are protected by the First Amendment . . . but Donald Trump does not seem to care about the rule of law. . . Andrew Cuomo should be vigorously defending people’s right to dissent. Not restricting it.”

In Politico, Connor Skelding wrote “Opposition to the so-called BDS movement — a campaign designed to end the Israeli settlement of Palestinian territories by boycotting, divesting, and sanctioning Israel — has become a popular maneuver for politicians across the country to demonstrate their pro-Israel bona fides.”

The piece quoted Sainath saying, “A lot of people in New York are concerned that they may in the future be put on the list . . . Why this sort of sneaky, late night move of posting 13 European companies when he made all those statements back in June?”

Electronic Intifada’s Nora Barrows-Friedman noted that New York’s process for choosing blacklisted institutions is “vague and opaque.”

In AlterNet, Max Blumenthal and Sarah Lazare wrote that emails obtained through a Freedom of Information request “reveal that Cuomo's executive order was the product of an aggressive lobbying campaign by the powerful pro-Israel lobbying organizations including the American Jewish Committee, or AJC.

The Forward’s Josh Nathan-Kazis noted that the Blacklist, “seems to have fizzled,” and “that the order will have no tangible effect on any state business.”