Zionist Organization of America President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:
ZOA praises Town of North Hempstead (NY) Supervisor Judi Bosworth, and Council members Dina De Georgio, Angelo Ferrara, Anna Kaplan, Viviana Russell, Lee Seeman, and Peter Zuckerman for unanimously passing a bi-partisan anti-boycott contracting bill on April 4, 2017. The bill prohibits the Town from contracting with companies that participate in the movement to boycott, divest from investing in, and sanction Israel. The bill properly defines ‘boycott’ of Israel to include the boycott of territories controlled by Israel.
ZOA’s Director of Special Projects Liz Berney worked together with Town Councilwoman Dina De Georgio to initiate and draft an initial version of the bill, after Councilwoman De Geogio and Ms. Berney spoke about anti-BDS legislation at a local seminar about anti-Semitism.
ZOA is available to help draft and/or provide model legislation and/or testimony to other localities who are interested in passing anti-boycott laws. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the well-attended hearing held on April 4th, Supervisor Bosworth and the bi-partisan Town Councilmembers spoke movingly and strongly in favor of the bill. Supervisor Bosworth noted that as a child of Holocaust survivors, she was especially moved by a speaker with the same background. She stated that in the 1930s, no one had stood up against anti-Semitism, and now, in the face of anti-Semitism, the Town of North Hempstead is standing up. Supervisor Bosworth also noted that: “The BDS movement [boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel] is driven by anti-Semitism and is meant to punish Israel in order to cause its economic collapse.” Supervisor Bosworth also read from and described some of the many emails sent to the Town in favor of the anti-boycott bill.
Councilwoman De Giorgio stated that she was proud of fact that the Council was passing the anti-boycott bill in a bi-partisan way. Councilman Ferraro stated that he was very proud of the bill, and that “you don’t have to be Jewish to support it.” Councilwoman Russell noted that anti-Israel boycotts are anti-Semitic, and that Israel is very different from apartheid regimes.
ZOA’s Director of Special Projects and acting Long Island-Queens Executive Director Liz Berney, Esq. testified in favor of the bill at the hearing. She quoted the U.S. Supreme Court, other federal law demonstrating that the anti-boycott bill is Constitutional (and does not violate the First Amendment). Ms. Berney also explained that anti-Israel boycotts violate the Oslo accords and New York’s Human Rights law, and harm many American companies, as well as thousands of Jews and Arabs. She also said that boycotts do not help the Palestinian Arabs; and cited Palestinian-Arab polling to show that Palestinian Arabs would like more Israeli companies to locate to Judea/Samaria (a/k/a the West Bank).
In addition, ZOA Long Island board member David Neinken and Susan Buckler also gave heartfelt testimony.
Chabad of Port Washington Rabbi Shalom Paltiel described the dangerous climate on campuses for Jewish students, which is encouraged by the BDS movement, akin to the climate in Europe in the 1930s, and described Israel’s extraordinary record of protecting human rights for all. Temple Judea Rabbi Todd Chizner noted that in Israel, Arabs and other minorities receive equal treatment at Hadassah Hospital and universities, etc. Many other rabbis and political leaders also testified in favor of this Bill.
The Town of North Hempstead includes many smaller towns and villages in northwestern Long Island, and has over 226,000 residents – which is a larger than 27 world countries’ populations.
The Town of North Hempstead has now joined neighboring Town of Hempstead, which passed an anti-BDS contracting law last year. ZOA had also testified on behalf of the Town of Hempstead bill. (See “ZOA Praises Supervisor and Council of Town of Hempstead (Largest U.S. Town) for Passing Anti-Boycott Bill; ZOA Testified at Public Hearing for the Bill,” June 23, 2016.)
Unfortunately, a “Green Party” activist and several other bedraggled anti-Israel speakers – also came to the hearing and spouted outrageous, hateful anti-Semitic lies demonizing Israel, reminiscent of the propaganda about Jews heard in Europe in the 1930s and similar to the anti-Israel propaganda heard on college campuses today. Sadly, a misguided self-hating Jew called Israel’s democratically-elected government “fascistic,” and stated that we need “war and disruption” to establish a Palestinian [Arab] State.
A representative of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU, the ACLU’s New York branch), also showed up and falsely claimed that the bill violates the First Amendment – without any evidence for her bald statement. ZOA’s Ms. Berney’s discussion of the actual law debunked the NYCLU/ACLU’s false claim.