NEW YORK – New York State Republican lawmakers on Sunday called on the Democratic majority in the New York Assembly to pass legislation that would prohibit state contracting with, or state investment in businesses or individuals that promote or engage in activities to boycott, divest, or sanction Israel.
In January, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill that prohibits the state from doing business with companies that support BDS movement by expanding existing state law to prevent New York from entering into a state contract or investment with those seeking to harm economically U.S. allies. The legislation, sponsored by Senators Jack Martins, a Republican from Long Island, and Simcha Felder, a Democrat from Brooklyn, who caucuses with the Republican majority, was supported by 55 of the 63 members of the State Senate.
“New York taxpayers should be protected from becoming unwitting supporters of those who are trying to undermine our greatest ally, Israel, and other critical allies,” Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said during a press conference in Cedarhurst, NY. “Today, the Senate Republican Majority is once again demonstrating that we will continue to stand with our international partners and protect our shared national interests. The Assembly must join us in this fight.”
Flanked by Jewish community leaders and activists, Senator Martins, now a congressional candidate for the open seat of retiring Congressman Steve Israel, said, “Every day they [The Democrats] fail to act is another day they enable others to use state resources to harm Israel. It’s time for the Assembly to join us in making this a priority and sending a strong message that New York State supports Israel and our other allies who have continually supported us.”
The State Assembly passed a resolution last year rejecting the BDS movement and reaffirming its support for Israel. The resolution, introduced by Assemblymembers Walter Mosley (D-Brooklyn) and Phil Goldfeder (D-Queens) and co-sponsored by 74 members, rejected the BDS movement and all activities in New York, which “undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution and the right of Israelis and Palestinians to self-determination.” But while current New York State law prohibits the State from directly engaging in an international boycott against U.S.-allied nations, the state could indirectly support a boycott of allied countries by providing state funds to businesses or individuals that participate in boycotts.
“In the words of Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, those who wear the BDS label should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-semite or bigot,” said Jeff Ballabon, a GOP consultant.