NEW YORK – The New York City Council on Wednesday passed a resolution that condemns the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the state of Israel.
Forty members voted in favor, four against, and six abstained.
The resolution, sponsored by Council Member Andrew Cohen and co-sponsored by a super majority of the 51 members, condemns “all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the global movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the people of Israel.”
Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) asserted that his support of the resolution is due to the fact that he believes in a two-state solution “with a secure Israel and an independent Palestine in Gaza and the West Bank.”
“While I respect individuals’ rights to engage in boycotts that are focused on occupied territory beyond the Green Line while recognizing Israel’s right to exist and supporting a two-state solution, the BDS movement’s own platform does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and many in the BDS movement do not support a two-state solution,” said Levin.
Some supporters of the resolution made it clear that while they oppose the boycotting of Israel, they are also opposed to Israel’s settlement activity – like Councilman Brad Lander, who condemned Israel’s “occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.”
The few Councilmembers who voted against the resolution, or abstained from voting, cited first amendment rights.
But according to Councilman David Greenfield, “We are not taking away anyone’s first amendment rights. All we are doing today is simply condemning anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity.”
“You still have the right to be bigots,” Greenfield said, addressing BDS activists. “Those activists still have the right that they so choose to be anti-Israel, and they still have the right that they so choose to be anti-Semitic. All we are saying at the City Council today is that to those of you who have those beliefs, we condemn you and your beliefs and your actions.”
Earlier Wednesday, the Committee on Contracts passed the resolution, a week after a rowdy public hearing, by a 4-1 vote.
In June, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order that orders state agencies to divest themselves of companies and organizations who support the BDS movement. “In New York, we lead by example. We are also a place of action. We want to take immediate action because we want Israel to know that we are on their side,” Cuomo said at a signing ceremony in New York City. “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you.”
Last month, as first reported by Jewish Insider, Mayor Bill de Blasio implored his fellow progressives to reject the BDS movement as being consistent with progressive values. “There are plenty of people who support BDS who have advanced degrees and who call themselves progressives. I look forward to challenging them because it’s ahistorical,” De Blasio, a prominent progressive leader, told congregants in an address after Shabbat morning services at the Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, New York. “I think it’s one of the most ahistorical things I’ve ever seen.”
The Mayor’s office refused to say whether de Blasio supports Gov. Cuomo’s executive order or would issue an order to all city agencies to divest themselves of companies and organizations who support the BDS movement. “The Mayor has a long and vocal history of speaking out against BDS efforts,” the mayor’s spokesman Eric Phillips told Jewish Insider. “That advocacy will continue.”