Statement on Passage of NYC Council Resolution

Palestine Legal issued the following statement in response to New York City Council Resolution 1058-A, “Condemning all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the global movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the people of Israel,” which passed on September 14, 2016: 

 Credit: Lisa Bettany

Credit: Lisa Bettany

The New York City Council’s decision to target supporters of Palestinian freedom for condemnation by passing Resolution 1058-A makes a mockery of our First Amendment rights.

The Supreme Court has long recognized boycotts for social, political and economic change as First Amendment-protected activity. This includes boycott campaigns for Palestinian human rights.

Public officials’ words and actions hold weight. When our council members condemn New Yorkers for engaging in their constitutionally-protected rights, it not only chills protected speech activity, it also casts a shadow over such activity, setting the stage for increased harassment, bullying and threats.

The Council’s shameful ad hominem attacks on opponents of the resolution testifying at a public hearing last Thursday exposes the intent of proponents of the resolution to use baseless accusations to undermine and tarnish a growing human rights movement that seeks accountability for Israel’s persistent abuse of Palestinian rights.

Today’s City Council vote is yet another example of what we call “the Palestine Exception to Free Speech,” the widespread and growing suppression of Palestinian human rights advocacy in the U.S. Our lawmakers should be in the business of advancing human rights, not condemning those of us who choose to exercise our constitutional rights to engage in such advocacy.

To read Radhika Sainath's testimony from Thursday's hearing, click here.