2017-2018 Legislative Cycle
In March 2017, with almost no notice, no public hearing, no opportunity for public input, the New York State Senate passed three anti-protest bills targeting Palestine advocacy. These bills have not passed the New York State Assembly.
S.2492 would create a state-sponsored blacklist of individuals, organizations, and companies that support boycotts for Palestinian rights, and would unconstitutionally deny them state benefits. When a previous iteration of S.2492 failed to pass the New York State legislature in 2016, Governor Cuomo side-stepped the democratic process, signing a widely criticized Executive Order similar to the failed bill (the Executive Order does not blacklist individuals).
S.2493 aims to prohibit public funding of student organizations at pubic universities in New York if the student organization advocates for boycotts of "allied nations," including Israel. The bill also prohibits funding to such student groups that promote or permit intolerance, discrimination, or hate speech. An earlier version of S.2493 failed to pass the legislature in 2016.
In 2014, a previous iteration of S.4837 also failed to pass the New York State legislature after public outcry. This bill takes aim at academic associations and entities that support BDS by threatening to withhold state funding from them. A 2014 New York Times editorial called the bill an “ill-considered response to the American Studies Association and would trample on academic freedoms and would chill free speech and dissent.”
Share with your lawmakers:
Albany Times Union Op-Ed: State's anti-BDS bill attacks free speech, by Rahul Saksena
Press Release: Legal organizations condemn anti-BDS bills fastracked in New York State Senate, Palestine Legal and Center for Constitutional Rights
Blog Post: Lawmakers should ferociously defend - not limit - our right to protest, by Rahul Saksena
Executive Order No. 157
UPDATE: On June 5, 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 157 (EO 157) Directing State Agencies And Authorities To Divest Public Funds Supporting BDS Campaign Against Israel.
Dima Khalidi: Andrew Cuomo's BDS Blacklist is a Clear Violation of the First Amendment, The Nation
Palestine Legal's Media Round-up
Andrew Cuomo’s Anti-Free Speech Move on B.D.S., New York Times
The most far-reaching, unconstitutional anti-BDS bills in the country are currently under consideration by the New York Legislature.
UPDATE: On June 6, 2016, Sen. Martins introduced SB 8017 which seeks to amend New York’s education law to defund any student group that “directly or indirectly promotes, encourage or permits” boycotts “based on race, class, gender, national origin” and other protected categories.
S6378A/A9036* and S6086/A8220A** would: 1) create an online blacklist of individuals, non-profit organizations, companies, and other entities that support boycotts of Israel; 2) prohibit blacklisted individuals and entities from doing business with the state of New York; and 3) prohibit state pension funds from investing in companies engaged in politically motivated boycotts of Israel.
*S6378A/A9036 also apply to boycotts directed toward an "allied nation" of the U.S.
**A8220A excludes "individuals" from the blacklist it would create.
Find out more:
Take action! (updated 5/3/2016)
Share with your Legislator:
Updated: Legal analysis by Palestine Legal, Center for Constitutional Rights, and National Lawyers Guild
Updated: Legal analysis by NYCLU
Don't blacklist me, Salon
Legislation would undermine the right to boycott, Buffallo News
Bill status (updated 3/9/2016): S6378A passed the Senate
These bills are the result of a campaign to suppress Palestine human rights activism in the U.S. Israel's interest in restricting this activism should not override our constitutional right to advocate for change.
The good news is that your right to engage in boycotts related to Israeli human rights abuses and to advocate for BDS is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. None of the bills and resolutions described here prohibit you from engaging in BDS activities.
Whatever your views on Israel and Palestine, these bills should be of concern because they threaten the rights of everyone in the U.S. to take collective action to address injustice. Moreover, we should all be alarmed that a foreign government, Israel, is lobbying U.S. politicians to restrict our rights.