You recently received an action item about a proposed law in the U.S. Congress called “The Combating BDS Act of 2016.” (In the Senate, it’s S.2531 and in the House it’s H.R.4514.) This blatantly unconstitutional law would authorize state and local governments to divest from entities that support the Palestinian civil society-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Believe it or not, the New York State Assembly is considering two bills (A8220 and A9036) that would accomplish what the congressional bills want them to accomplish!
A8220 would penalize individuals and organizations supporting the boycott of Israel.It would empower the State government to create a list of persons and organizations it determines boycotts Israel and that list would be made public. Any organization on the list would lose all State funding, and would be unable to partner with any State agencies. No State pension funds could be invested in companies that boycott or divest from Israel. To get off of the list, individuals and organizations would have to write a profession and say that they are not, in fact, boycotting Israel.
A9036 prohibits organizations from (a) boycotting companies located in "allied states" or (b) supporting "boycotts" against "allied states." This would be true even when the campaigns are calling attention to human rights abuses, many of which are widely recognized – including by the U.S. government.
It is important that you tell your NYS Assembly member to oppose these bills, no matter what their stance is about BDS. These laws are unconstitutional. We have a First Amendment right to participate in BDS, and a First Amendment right to urge others to participate in BDS.
Half of us don’t know who represents us in the NYS Assembly. Here’s a user-friendly way to find out:
Big Brother is watching you. It can happen here.
Arnie Matlin for GVCP
[Adapted from a mailing by Kate Alexander of PANYS]