Nassau County became the first municipality in New York to take a decisive stand against discrimination and bigotry against Israel on May 23, 2016.
By a unanimous vote of 19-0, the county legislature passed Local Law -2016, which calls for “The Prohibition of Discriminatory, Anti-Competitive Business Practices by Companies that Participate in Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions Activities.” The legislation disqualifies companies from doing business with the county if they engage in economic warfare against Israel.
Legislator Howard Kopel, who introduced the bill stated that “the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is anti-Semitic and I am proud to oppose this movement.”
The legislation isn’t about regulating or suppressing anyone’s opinions or political views. It’s entirely about conduct, specifically Nassau County’s contracts and investment policy, and expressing the public’s opposition to economic and political warfare on a close ally and trading partner. Federal court decisions applying the statutes have ruled that they do not violate the First Amendment because economic boycotts are not protected speech, but are instead a form of commercial activity.
Avi Posnick, Managing Director, New York Chapter StandWithUs Northeast Region and a resident of Nassau County testified before the legislature (below). He stated, “Nassau County, already requires bidders for county contracts to commit to nondiscrimination, and this is no different. The county is standing against up to discrimination against Israel. Ignoring discriminatory practices and boycotts by practices and/or boycotts. This local law protects the citizens and government of Nassau County from unknowingly becoming party to discriminatory business practices or boycotts.”
Posnick continued, “StandWithUs, in partnership with other organizations, works on the grassroots level to educate communities and students and empower the next generation. We also need the leadership of our elected officials. We need them to stand up to the racist, anti-Semitic campaign known as the BDS. We need them to pass laws which will ensure a better tomorrow for the people in the region, the citizens of Nassau County and the United States. Today Nassau County did. Tomorrow I hope the rest of the nation’s municipalities follow suit and stand up against discrimination.”
The goal of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS ) is economic warfare meant to delegitimize, isolate and destroy Israel. While some who support BDS may claim it is about other issues, Omar Barghouti, the founder of this movement has said, “Even if the occupation were to end my call for BDS would not.”
The fatal fallacy of the movement is the fact that its proponents are hurting the very people they purport to help. Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank are employed by Israeli-run firms. Such enterprises serve as examples of coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians and hold out a hopeful vision for the future. If these boycotts have their desired effect, thousands of Palestinians will be unemployed. Soda Stream, a target of boycott, once employed 600 Palestinians, who worked side-by-side with Israelis at wages far above the average in the West Bank. Soda Stream finally moved, and Palestinian families lost.
Palestinian Human Rights Activist, Bassem Eid addressed legislators in Albany a few weeks ago, “BDS hurts me as a Palestinian. BDS destroys the Palestinian economy.”