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by Shlomo Cesana, Yoni Hersch and Associated Press
Order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo forces New York state entities to drop investments linked to anti-Israel boycotts • Order "immensely helpful," says Israeli minister • Tens of thousands march down New York City's Fifth Avenue in show of support for Israel.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday issued the first executive order in the United States that forces state entities to drop investments linked to boycotts of Israel.
The Democratic governor expects state agencies to divest all public funds from any company or individual with ties to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which was founded in 2005 to protest Israel's policies toward the Palestinians by boycotting Israeli products and companies.
Cuomo says New York state will boycott anyone who is boycotting Israel.
"This order sends the message that this state will do everything in its power to end this hateful, intolerant campaign," he said. "New York and Israel share an unbreakable bond and I pray that the Israeli and Palestinian people will find a way to live side by side and find peace, prosperity and security."
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who oversees Israel's ongoing battle against anti-Israel boycott efforts, remarked Sunday: "I want to thank the governor of New York for this important step, which will be immensely helpful to Israel in its battle against BDS."
Cuomo signed the order at Manhattan's Harvard Club before marching in the annual Celebrate Israel parade.
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon also marched down New York City's Fifth Avenue on Sunday, together with a number of high-ranking state officials. In a massive show of support for Israel, tens of thousands of Israel supporters took part in the event, which was attended by representatives of schools, pro-Israel organizations, synagogues, Christian groups and many others.
Danon marched alongside Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni and a delegation of Israeli dignitaries including MKs, diplomats and pro-Israel activists.
"It warms my heart to see tens of thousands of Americans take to the streets to show their support for Israel," Danon said. "We have a true friend in the U.S. The alliance between our people is stronger than ever."
Meanwhile, under the governor's new directive, New York state officials must now compile a list of businesses and groups engaged in any "boycott, divestment or sanctions targeting Israel, directly or through a parent or subsidiary."
The list will be assembled using "credible information available to the public," according to the order. Anyone appearing on the list will have the right and the opportunity to appeal.
The United Jewish Appeal in New York praised Cuomo for being the first governor to issue an executive order opposing BDS.
In a statement, CEO Eric S. Goldstein said his organization was "proud that the governor of New York state has taken this historic action to stand with Israel and reject the BDS movement."
However, a leading constitutional rights attorney called the action "21st century McCarthyism."
Baher Azmy, the legal director of the New York-based nonprofit Center for Constitutional Rights, said that with the executive order, Cuomo bypassed the state legislature and what Azmy called "the possibility of a bona fide debate on the American tradition of boycotting in support of social justice."
In addition, Cuomo's action violates the First Amendment protection of free speech, Azmy said.
"Cuomo's action has the ugliest attributes of McCarthyism, identifying organizations that engage in speech we dislike, and, 'Let's blacklist them,'" Azmy said. "This is a well-orchestrated, well-funded, organized strategy to disproportionately punish U.S.-based activists. Really ugly."
Shlomo Cesana, Yoni Hersch and Associated Press
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.
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