Civil rights groups seek documents relating to Cuomo’s order blacklisting BDS supporters

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Today human rights groups made an announcement that they will seek documents relating to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order barring state business with organizations that have endorsed Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The Center for Constitutional Rights published the release. The Freedom of Information Law request is here.

Groups Seek Cuomo Documents About Executive Order Blacklisting Institutions That Support BDS

June 21, 2016, New York – Today, human rights and civil liberties groups filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request seeking documents relating to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent executive order that will blacklist institutions and companies that abide by Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns related to Israeli human rights abuses and violations of international law. Under the order, New York State money will be divested from those institutions unless and until they drop their support of the constitutionally-protected movement for Palestinian rights.

The groups filing the FOIL request maintain that Cuomo’s order violates the First Amendment by punishing political boycotts, which the Supreme Court has unequivocally found to be protected expression, and that it is only the latest offense in a well-funded and coordinated wave of attacks designed to silence Palestinian human rights activism in the U.S. Congress as well as some two dozen states have introduced anti-BDS legislation, and Israeli media have reported that their foreign ministry was involved in initiating at least some of the bills. The FOIL seeks to understand the origins of Cuomo’s order and who may be behind it.

The FOIL request, filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Palestine Legal, and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), seeks communications between the governor’s office and any organizations, other U.S. state executive offices and legislatures, and the state of Israel relating to the executive order.

Said Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Baher Azmy, “Governor Cuomo’s McCarthy-style blacklist attempts to demonize and punish institutions that are acting on a principled view that they cannot subsidize well-documented human rights abuses undertaken by the Israeli government in violation of international law – precisely the same view that drove Governor Cuomo’s father to participate in divestment from South Africa in the 1980s.”

Governor Cuomo issued his order on June 5, in the midst of debate surrounding pending New York State legislation opposed by many groups that would have similarly compiled lists of persons and entities engaged in BDS tactics. Announcing his executive order, Cuomo, who is Co-Chair of the American Jewish Committee’s Governors against BDS initiative, told a room of supporters the legislative process was “tedious.”

“Cuomo’s hostility to free speech and open debate is clear, both from his intent to blacklist boycotters and his use of an executive order to circumvent the political opposition to similar bills in the legislature,” said Palestine Legal Executive Director Dima Khalidi. “The bill in the legislature was opposed by over a hundred groups who saw it as an effort to deny a fundamental democratic right to political speech, in clear violation of the First Amendment. This FOIL seeks to expose the forces behind this executive order so that the public can understand the extent to which Cuomo is subverting our constitutional rights in order to shield Israel from accountability.”

“We have seen groups that oppose taking action to end Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians bring pressure time and again to silence criticism of the state, from college campuses to legislatures across the country,” said Jewish Voice for Peace Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson. “However, this is the first time they have enlisted a governor in an unconstitutional attack on BDS tactics.”

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7 Responses

  1. Emory Riddle
    June 21, 2016, 3:45 pm

    “..seeks communications between the governor’s office and any organizations, other U.S. state executive offices and legislatures, and the state of Israel relating to the executive order.’

    They will never allow us to see this. If the curtain was pulled back and the American public saw how Israel and the Lobby controls our pols it would be see you later Israel.

    Don’t forget, out judiciary is every bit as corrupted by these folks as is our congress, media, Wall Street, regulatory agencies, etc.

  2. sulai
    June 21, 2016, 5:32 pm

    Looks like Cuomo knew exactly what he was doing as the DNC has rewarded him:

    “A chorus of howls erupted at a Democratic Party meeting on Tuesday when officials loyal to Gov. Andrew Cuomo nominated him to chair the Empire State’s delegation to next month’s Democratic National Convention.”

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2016/06/sanders-supporters-shout-as-cuomo-picked-to-lead-dnc-delegation-103110#ixzz4CFgZ2S00
    Follow us: @politico on Twitter | Politico on Facebook

  3. Talkback
    June 22, 2016, 8:01 am

    “New York stands with Israel” …

    … because of its violation of international law and human rights while trying to silence everybody who doesn’t.

  4. Elizabeth Block
    June 22, 2016, 10:40 am

    I got an email asking me to write to Cuomo telling him I’ll boycott New York State until he rescinds this unconstitutional decree. Can’t do that — I’ve already got tickets to a folk festival near Albany. But I shall wear my t-shirt that said FREE PALESTINE on one side and BOYCOTT ISRAELI PRODUCTS on the other. And my button that says Jews Against the Occupation.

    BTW: There was an attempt to do much the same thing in Ontario. It failed, but the Zionists will almost certainly try again. Won’t be constitutional here either, but it will have a chilling effect until the courts throw it out.

  5. genesto
    June 22, 2016, 1:06 pm

    I’d love to see JVP finally take up the cause of exposing the Israel Lobby’s history of increasing control of US Middle East policy,especially as it relates to Israel/Palestine. But, of course, that would mean acknowledging the findings of Alison Weir in her groundbreaking, and increasingly commercially successful, book, “Against Our Better Judgement”. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen until the gatekeepers in the organization are removed from power.

  6. Reality Colin
    June 22, 2016, 1:41 pm

    There will be reliable, telling disclosure a lot sooner — and far more comprehensively — if Guccifer 2.0 or someone with such skills delved into the matter.

  7. JLewisDickerson
    June 24, 2016, 6:28 pm

    RE: “Today, human rights and civil liberties groups filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request seeking documents relating to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent executive order that will blacklist institutions and companies that abide by Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns related to Israeli human rights abuses and violations of international law.” ~ Mondoweiss Editors

    MY COMMENT: Let’s hope that Gov. Cuomo (unlike a certain past Democratic official and current presidential aspirant) does not use a server in the basement of his home for his e-mails so as to assist him in evading compliance with FOIL requests!

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