Brooklyn Boro

State Senate bill goes after Israel boycotters

January 22, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
State Sen. Simcha Felder co-sponsored the legislation. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas

New York shouldn’t be handing out state contracts to businesses that boycott Israel, according to Brooklyn lawmakers who voted for a bill to punish corporations seeking to economically harm the U.S. ally.

Sponsored by state Sen. Jack Martins (R-C-Mineola) and co-sponsored by Brooklyn state Sens. Simcha Felder and Marty Golden, the legislation seeks to prohibit New York state from doing business with companies looking to harm Israel and other U.S. allies through boycotts and discriminatory economic agendas.

The senate passed the bill on Jan. 20. It will be sent to the New York State Assembly for consideration. The measure will not become law unless the Assembly passes it and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs it.

The bill would expand an existing state law to prevent New York from entering into a state contract or investment with entities seeking to economically harm American allies.

Under current state law, the state is prohibited from directly engaging in an international boycott against American allies. Despite the law, however, the state could still indirectly support a boycott of Israel and other allies by providing state monies to businesses or individuals that participate in boycotts, the bill’s supporters said.

The legislation approved by the senate on Wednesday would expand the law by prohibiting state contracts from going to businesses or individuals that promote or engage in boycotts, sanctions or divestment in Israel and other U.S. allies.

The bill would prevent New York state from becoming an unwilling participant in a discriminatory agenda, according to the legislation’s supporters.

“Those who advocate and engage in boycotts against Israel, and who promote anti-Semitic ideology, have no place as a state contractor. This is very meaningful legislation that protects our nation’s allies and stands up against bigotry and injustice,” Felder (D-Borough Park) said in a statement.

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Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) said the bill is an important statement of support for Israel, a key U.S. ally.

“New York has always stood by our nation’s most trusted ally, Israel, and will do whatever it takes to help protect their interests and safety. Today we say New York is closed for business for those contractors who participate in subversive activity or try to disrupt Israel’s economy,” Golden stated.

“Our tax dollars should not be used to aid those who wish to harm our friends. Israel and our other allies stand side by side with us to protect New Yorkers and all Americans. We owe it to them to ensure our own resources are not used in efforts to attack them. This sends a strong message that New York State supports those who have continually supported us,” Martins stated.

The bill also protects New York taxpayers, according to Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan.

“New York taxpayers need to be protected from becoming unwitting supporters of those who are trying to undermine our greatest ally, Israel, and other critical allies. We are demonstrating that New York will continue to stand with our international partners and protect our shared interests,” he said.

Under the bill, the state would develop a reference list of companies, organizations or other entities that have engaged in or promoted boycotts of American allies.

New Jersey, Illinois and South Carolina have adopted similar laws in recent years.

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