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Nassau County Leads New York in Anti-Boycott Legislation May 23, 2016


Avi Posnick testifying before the Nassau County Legislature

StandWithUs applauds Nassau County for being the first municipality in New York to take a decisive stand against discrimination and bigotry against Israel on May 23, 2016. By a unanimous vote of 19-0, the county legislature passed Local Law - 2016, which calls for “The Prohibition of Discriminatory, Anti-Competitive Business Practices by Companies that Participate in Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions Activities.” The legislation disqualifies companies from doing business with the county if they engage in economic warfare against Israel.

Legislator Howard Kopel, who introduced the bill stated that "the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is anti-Semitic and I am proud to oppose this movement." 

The legislation isn't about regulating or suppressing anyone's opinions or political views. It's entirely about conduct, specifically Nassau County's contracts and investment policy, and expressing the public's opposition to economic and political warfare on a close ally and trading partner. Federal court decisions applying the statutes have ruled that they do not violate the First Amendment because economic boycotts are not protected speech, but are instead a form of commercial activity.

Avi Posnick, Managing Director, New York Chapter StandWithUs Northeast Region and a resident of Nassau County testified before the legislature (below). He stated, "I am prouder than ever to live in Nassau County resident and be represented by Howard Kopel.  Nassau County, already requires bidders for county  contracts to commit to nondiscrimination, and this is no different. The county  is standing against up to discrimination against Israel. Ignoring discriminatory practices and boycotts by practices and/or boycotts. This local law protects the citizens and government of Nassau County from unknowingly becoming party to discriminatory business practices or boycotts.”


Avi Posnick (left) with Nassau County Legislator Howard Kopel (right)

Posnick continued, “StandWithUs, in partnership with other organizations, works on the grassroots level to educate communities and students and empower the next generation. We also need the leadership of our elected officials. We need them to stand up to the racist, anti-Semitic campaign known as the BDS. We need them to pass laws which will ensure a better tomorrow for the people in the region, the citizens of Nassau County and the United States. Today Nassau County did. Tomorrow I hope the rest of the nation's municipalities follow suit and stand up against discrimination.”

The goal of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS ) is economic warfare meant to delegitimize, isolate and destroy Israel. While some who support BDS may claim it is about other issues, Omar Barghouti, the founder of this movement has said, “Even if the occupation were to end my call for BDS would not.”
The fatal fallacy of the movement is the fact that its proponents are hurting the very people they purport to help.  Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank are employed by Israeli-run firms. Such enterprises serve as examples of coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians and hold out a hopeful vision for the future. If these boycotts have their desired effect, thousands of Palestinians will be unemployed. Soda Stream, a target of boycott, once employed 600 Palestinians, who worked side-by-side with Israelis at wages far above the average in the West Bank. Soda Stream finally moved, and Palestinian families lost. Palestinian Human Rights Activist, Bassem Eid addressed legislators in Albany a few weeks ago, “BDS hurts me as a Palestinian. BDS destroys the Palestinian economy.”

About StandWithUs
StandWithUs (SWU) is a fifteen year-old, international, non-profit Israel education organization that supports people around the world who want to educate their campuses and communities about Israel. 

Based in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters throughout the U.S. including New York, in Israel, the UK and Canada.  
 
www.standwithus.com and http://www.facebook.com/StandWithUs and  http://www.twitter.com/standwithus


Avi Posnick
Managing Director, New York Chapter StandWithUs Northeast
In Support of Local Law -2016

Thank you for convening this important session. My organization, StandWithUs, an international Israel education organization, supports those who want to educate others about Israel. We have been a leading organization fighting the boycott campaign against Israel in major corporations, college campuses, food coops, transit systems and more throughout the country and here in the state of New York. I urge the Legislature to pass this local law which will be good not just for Israel but also for Nassau County. 

Nassau County, already requires bidders for county  contracts to commit to nondiscrimination, and this is no different. The county  is standing against up to discrimination against Israel. Ignoring discriminatory practices and boycotts by companies doing business with the county would make Nassau a de facto partner in these discriminatory practices and/or boycotts. This local law protects the citizens and government of Nassau County from unknowingly becoming party to discriminatory business practices or boycotts.

Supporting this legislation is good for the future prosperity of the state of New York and the Nassau County. 

It is also important to pass this legislation for the benefit of younger generations. As I mentioned earlier, StandWithUs, an organization for which I serve as Managing Director in the Northeast, has been at the forefront of educating students on college campuses and in high schools about Israel, for 15 years. We believe education is the road to peace and through people to people experiences and building bridges among various communities, we will see a more peaceful region and create a better world. 

The goal of the BDS campaign is the elimination of Israel, plain and simple. While some who support BDS may claim it is about other issues, Omar Barghouti, the founder of this movement has said, “Even if the occupation were to end my call for BDS would not.” 

Boycotting Israel does not improve the lives of Palestinians in fact it hurts them. Soda Stream, a target of boycott, once employed 600 Palestinians, who worked side-by-side with Israelis at wages far above the average in the West Bank. Soda Stream finally moved, and Palestinian families lost. As Palestinian Human Rights Activist, Bassem Eid said when we brought him to meet with legislators in Albany a few weeks ago, “BDS hurts me as a Palestinian. BDS destroys the Palestinian economy.” Interestingly enough in 2013, Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority came out against boycotting Israel. 

Peace takes two. Calling for a boycott of Israel and putting the blame solely on Israel, which is what BDS does, pushes peace further away. Israel wants peace. Israel continues to work for peace. As Prime Minister Netanyahu said, he will clear his schedule at any time to meet with the Palestinian Authority and negotiate peace. 

While we at StandWithUs, in partnership with other organizations, some who are also here today, work on the grassroots level to educate communities and students and empower the next generation, we also need the leadership of our elected officials. We need you to do what is right. We need you to stand up to the racist, anti-Semitic campaign known as the BDS campaign. We need you to vote for this local law which will ensure a better tomorrow for the people in the region, the citizens of Nassau County and the United States. 

Thank you again for convening this session and for the opportunity to be here.

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