New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind
New York Assemblyman Dov HikindOffice of Assemblyman Hikind

New York State legislators are working on a bill to ban the state's pension fund from doing business with companies that boycott Israel.

The proposed bill is being spearheaded by Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn), and already has the support of more than a dozen Assembly Members on both sides of the aisle.

It follows a series of similar bills passed by overwhelming majorities in other US states, most recently in Illinois, where legislators unanimously voted for a bill banning the state from investing in companies which in any way participate in a boycott of Israel. That bill is now set to be signed by the State’s Governor, at which point it will become official, binding state law.

The Illinois bill is one of the strongest anti-BDS moves in state legislature passed recently, following similar moves by Indiana and Tennessee.

Now Hikind wants to replicate that legislation in New York to combat the anti-Israel boycott campaign, which he branded anti-Semitic.

"Thanks to a well-oiled propaganda machine, Israel is a uniquely vilified nation state," said Hikind, a staunch supporter of the State of Israel. "The BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), the strategy of economic warfare, is rooted in anti-Semitism and a denial of Israel’s right to exist. It’s purpose is to delegitimize Israel."

"There’s no BDS movement against any other country," he noted. "It's time for New York State to make it clear where we stand.

"I applaud the lawmakers in Illinois who unanimously recognized the implicit lawlessness of boycotting Israel and I am proud to raise my voice, along with my colleagues in the Assembly, in support of ending the unethical, disingenuous, and frankly racist boycott against this legitimate nation and its people.”

The initial list of NY State Assembly Members supporting anti-BDS bill includes:

Peter Abbate (D-Brooklyn)
Alec Brook-Krasny (D-Brooklyn)
Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn)
Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Long Island)
Phillip Goldfeder (D-Queens)
Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Island)
Charles Lavine (D-Long Island)
David McDonough (R-Long Island)
Walter Mosley (D-Brooklyn)
Joseph Saladino (R-Long Island)
Michael Simanowitz (D-Brooklyn)
David Weprin (D-Queens)

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Assemblyman Hikind praised the "amazing the overwhelming support" across both isles for the initiative, as well as in states where similar bills have already passed. 

He said his proposed bill would be "almost the same as in Illinois," where he hailed the "amazing vote on their part."

"I am very excited about this," Hikind said of the growing momentum behind such initiatives.

"It's a real effort to make a difference in terms of this malicious, vicious, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel movement, whose goal is to delegitimize Israel."

"What's most remarkable is that there's no other problem in the world, no other country in the world that they have an issue with," Hikind said.

"They don't have a problem with Russia, China, or any other countries which regularly carry out serious abuses of human rights. There's only one place they target - a country so small you can hardly see it on a map of the Middle East."

In contrast, he pointed to Israel's strong democratic tradition: "There is hardly a country in the world where there is more open debate in the media... or in terms of civil rights and democracy, than Israel."

Despite the significance of such bills on a legal level, Hikind insisted that "legislation is just one part" of the battle against the BDS movement, and called for grassroots activists to step up their efforts to counter the anti-Israel narrative, particularly on American university campuses.

But he noted that the bills themselves also represent an important watershed in terms of framing a counter-narrative to BDS.

"It represents a recognition that - in spite of the propaganda by BDS - this is a movement that is not simply 'anti-Zionist' but anti-Semitic," he stated.

"When people are educated on this issue they recognize what this is all about. It's not about settlements in Judea and Samaria, it's about the very existence of the State of Israel."