Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York released a list of 13 institutions that his administration determined either directly or indirectly supported the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the state of Israel.
As the result of an executive order that Cuomo issued over the summer, New York is required to end any standing business relationships with those institutions. However, none of these companies currently do business with the state, so that doesn’t seem to be relevant.
According to Jezebel,
The thirteen companies on the list are mostly Dutch and Nordic in origin. At least one—the Copenhagen-based Danske Bank—has divested from Israeli firms that have also been subject to divestment and sanctions from entities that do conduct business with the state. In 2010, Danske Bank divested from Africa-Israel Investments Limited, a real-estate development firm run by the billionaire Uzbek diamond tycoon Lev Leviev after it became clear that an Africa-Israel subsidiary, Danya Cebus, was involved in illegal settlement construction in the West Bank. It also divested from Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest publicly-traded arms and security firm; their drones have been aggressively deployed in the Gaza Strip.
Cuomo’s executive order requires that the list be updated every six months. The list is fairly limited right now, which has been a means for celebration for many activists. Radhika Sainath, a staff attorney at Palestine Legal, told Jezebel:
“This is a rolling blacklist, however, and no one can be sure what is to come. It’s not clear if Cuomo is going to blacklist domestic groups as well, for example. This instills fear and confusion—especially in marginalized communities that might now think twice about supporting BDS.”
Sainath’s group, Palestine Legal, is actively seeking out ways to challenge Cuomo’s order. As it stands, they’ve considered challenging the order on First Amendment grounds, claiming that boycotts that plan to have an effect on political change are protected speech. They can also challenge it on Fourteenth Amendment grounds because the very nature of the blacklist and how it functions is so vague that it could very well be unconstitutional.
In effect, Cuomo’s executive order and blacklist of companies that potentially support BDS is an assault on people’s right to dissent. Similar to President-elect Donald Trump, Cuomo has demonstrated that he has no interest in protecting other’s rights to free speech. Should Cuomo target domestic companies in his McCarthy-style attack on BDS-supporting institutions, he will showcase the very troubling fact that he’s interested in taking away people’s rights, not protecting them.
The thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citizen Slant.