Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Governor Cuomo embarrasses and discredits himself

To the Editor:

On Sunday, Governor Cuomo exceeded his authority and issued an executive decree seeking to silence New Yorkers who are calling for a boycott of Israel in an attempt to win equality and human rights for Palestinians ("Cuomo to Halt State Business With Groups That Back Boycott of Israel"). He needs to cancel this unconstitutional decree without delay.

Boycott is a time-honored and non-violent method that has been used to defeat discriminatory and oppressive systems throughout history:  recent examples are the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott to confront racial segregation; the boycott of California grapes to help farmworkers win improvements in their wages and conditions; and the boycott, divestment and sanctions against South Africa to force that country to abandon its system of white domination. Governor Cuomo himself declared a boycott on state-financed trips to North Carolina in response to that state's discriminatory legislation against trans people. 

Boycotts seek to change specific policies, and the boycott of Israel is no exception. It seeks an end to the half-century-long occupation of the West Bank; an end to the brutal 10-year-long siege of Gaza; equal rights before the law for Palestinians  inside Israel itself; and the right of Palestinian refugees expelled from their homes since 1948 and lands and now living in squalid refugee camps, many of them for generations, to return to their country. These are all demands upheld by international law and supported by almost every government in the world.

By trying to stifle political speech, Governor Cuomo embarrasses and discredits himself. But there is no way that the movement for justice for Palestinians will somehow melt away under this blow. Our First Amendment rights are too important for that. See you in court, Andy!



Naomi Allen

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