Media Spotlight: Cuomo’s Order Sparks Debate On Right to Boycott

On Sunday, June 5, 2016 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order creating a blacklist of institutions and corporations that “engage in” or “promote others to engage” in human rights boycotts of Israel, and requiring certain state agencies and authorities to divest from blacklisted entities.

Gov. Cuomo probably did not anticipate the fierce media backlash his order received. We’ve collected some media highlights, below.

Palestine Legal and other civil rights organizations swiftly condemned the order, noting that boycotts are protected First Amendment activity. We have also requested official documents and communications related to the order.

Palestine Legal Director Dima Khalidi published an article in The Nation outlining the unconstitutionality of the order.

In a New York Times Op-Ed drafted by an opponent of BDS, the author slams Cuomo’s order, stating “economic boycott is a legitimate form of political expression, one that the government has no business restricting by withholding state business.”

AM New York’s Editorial Board asks why Gov. Cuomo is singling Israel out from protection against human right boycotts in ‘Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s anti-boycott order is on shaky ground.’

Jewish Voice for Peace Director Rebecca Vilkomerson notes in the New York Daily News that the order bypassed the state legislature, where two bills intended to suppress BDS had stalled (and ultimately failed to pass).

Vilkomerson also explains why “Cuomo is standing on the wrong side of history” in the Washington Post.

In The Nation, US Campaign to End the Occupation director Yousef Munnayer points out the anti-BDS order is not only counter-productive, but also a sign of how much the movement for Palestinian rights has grown.

The Salon article, “The new McCarthyism is pro-Israel: Legal groups slam NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo for creating ‘unconstitutional’ blacklist of BDS supporters” also discusses the First Amendment ramifications of the anti-BDS order.  Salon also covered protests of Gov. Cuomo organized by BDS supporters.

Upon reading the executive order, Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman of The Intercept sensed the “mentality of petty censoring tyranny, flavored with McCarthyite public shaming, in its purest form.”

The Forward calls Gov. Cuomo “The Worst Possible Face of the anti-BDS movement,” and notes that even staunch Israel advocate Eugene Kontorovich believes the executive order raises free speech concerns.