Andrew Cuomo’s Anti-BDS Order: New York Agencies Must Divest from Companies Boycotting Israel | National Review

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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  1. pillsy says:

    Conservatives have often criticized left-wingers for boycotting Chick-fil-A in the wake of the company’s donations to anti-same-sex marriage groups and comments made by its CEO.

    Money is speech, unless it’s a liberal’s money!

    The rest of the article is actually not so bad, but the inability to distinguish between state action and private consumer choice, and reminding us of the flagrant hypocrisy of this little right-wing shibboleth, seriously didn’t help it.Report

  2. j r says:

    Well… you can never have too much culture war.Report

    • North in reply to j r says:

      Does Israel count as culture war? The left most fringe vs everyone else?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to North says:

        A few years back, Trumwill said something really awesome. I’m going to mess it up because I can’t find it but, paraphrased, it was something like “College throws a real wrench into a lot of these arguments because people scream ‘nobody is saying that, that’s a strawman’ about positions that I heard quite regularly in college.”

        If the whole BDS thing spills out from college campuses into Real Life (the way it appears to have done so here), I’d say: Hell Yes, it’s culture war.Report

      • InMD in reply to North says:

        I think it’s less culture war and more establishment versus various left wing and libertarian groups who are largely outside of normal partisan allegiances. The vast majority of Americans I’d imagine don’t know and/or care enough about the issue. That’s really the only way I could see this backfiring on Cuomo, is if it makes more people take notice and realize how (trying to chose my words carefully) unhealthy our relationship is with Israel. More likely though I think it will just reinforce the self imposed restrictions our media and polity have on discussing the issue.Report

        • North in reply to InMD says:

          That sounds plausible.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to InMD says:


          The issue of course is that New York is one of the few states where the Jewish vote is large enough and wealthy enough to be a powerful voting bloc in elections. Most Jews are still pro-Israel. Even younger and more liberal Jews who are likely to support a two-state solution have been confused and angry by how the BDS crowd quickly goes into anti-Semitism.

          There was the Stanford student who wondered allowed in student government meetings about why we couldn’t discuss whether Jews control the media and banking or not. There was the Oberlin writing professor who had an openly anti-Semitic social media presence including wild conspiracy theories about how Jews profited from the Atlantic Slave Trade and still got defended by the admin. There were incidents at my Alma Mater, etc.Report

          • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            I can certainly see why that would alienate people, and I agree that endorsing anti-semitic conspiracy theories rightly undermines the credibility of any organization. That said, and I hate to play the BSDI card, but I do think there is a quickness from the establishment and pro-Israeli colonization/annexation crowd (do not read this as Jews, I just mean mainstream politicians and media regardless of religion or ethnicity) to treat any questions about American policy towards Israel as anti-semitism which I think is similarly unhelpful. Of course its the latter who hold the cards in the media and mainstream political discourse and shape the debate for most citizens who, again, don’t care that much, and therefore accept the status quo. Meanwhile we continue to provide military, economic, and political support to another Middle-Eastern country whose policies (like Saudi Arabia’s and Egypt’s) create instability and resentment that periodically manifests in blowback towards the United States.Report

            • Kolohe in reply to InMD says:

              But that will only matter if and when Cuomo (and Schumer) seek to become politicians elected by the nation at large. As they only answer the New York electorate, the New York electorate has a unique faction of electoral significance that sits at the intersection of standard national Democratic domestic policy and the politics of international relations with specific preferences around the Middle East.Report

              • InMD in reply to Kolohe says:

                I actually think that, absent a major and unforeseen shift in how America views it’s relationship with Israel, this will not hurt either Cuomo or Schumer much politically (if at all) on any stage.Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to InMD says:

              Last November, Pro-Palestinian activists in New York City blamed high tuition on the school’s “Zionist” faculty. You really don’t have to be overly sympathetic to Israel to see why Jews would regard this as anti-Semitic rather than anti-Israel. You see nearly the same thing at every allegedly anti-Zionist event, the constant invocation of the word Zionist in a way clearly meant as a dog-whistle for Jews and the repeat of the same anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. If the BDS movement really wants to show that they are not anti-Semitic than they have to do something about this.Report

              • Roland Dodds in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Yep. At least the alt-right types just come out and tell you they hate the Jews without the rhetorical word-smithing.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Roland Dodds says:

                The Further Left always had a very complicated relationship with the Jews from the days Marx was a young man or maybe even the French Revolution. The Jews were undoubtedly persecuted but the Further Left associated them with the bourgeois and free market capitalism, two thing they hated immensely.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Roland Dodds says:

                The Further Left did get their new favorite slang term for Jews, Zio, from Neo-Nazis though. The Alt-Right used to talk about the Zionist Occupied Government rather than using the word Jewish so that shows they could word-smith when they wanted to.Report

              • InMD in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I’m sure they’ll start policing their side for anti-semitism the same day the Israel can do no wrong side starts policing their own for making spurious accusations of anti-semitism to stifle legitimate policy debate. That is to say, never.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to InMD says:

                Since I’m a Jew, I have reason to be wary of them and at least kind of distrustful. Devil in the details there. They are also the ones claiming merely to be anti-Zionist so they bear the burden of proof. I can mind more somewhat to very critical but still supportive Zionists by a quick Zionists by a google search.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Why should people critical of Israel have to prove that they aren’t anti-semites? How are they supposed to do so? This reads like a lazy parody of how Liberals talk about race. “I oppose affirmative action in college admissions” “You Racist!!” “No, I oppose this for totally non-bigoted reasons” “Prove it!”Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Nearly every anti-Zionist claims to be anti-Zionist rather than anti-Semitic. If they are making that claim than they should have to prove it. One way they can do so is by stop using the term Zionist as a dog-whistle for Jew. Another way is to no longer make anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that have nothing to do with Israel or coming up for excuses when one of their comrades does. Since they do not, why should Jews trust them?

                Why should the bar for proving anti-Semitism be higher than any other prejudice? Why should Jews not be allowed to define what we see as hate against us the way other disadvantaged groups are?Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Because a political position that can be justified without prejudice isn’t prejudice, and that absolutely isn’t a standard that is applied to other political positions. Couldn’t the same logic be used to argue that everyone in favor of cutting welfare spending in the US is a racist? We’re not talking about opposition to gay rights, where every non-religious, non-bigoted rationale collapses under the slightest scrutiny.

                I have no problem with calling the dog-whistlers and conspiracy theorists anti-Semites, and I’m not denying that there are plenty of bigots on the anti-Zionist side of the debate. But you staked out a much broader position: people who don’t think there must be a Jewish-majority independent state somewhere between the Jordan and the Mediterranean are anti-Semites until (somehow) proven otherwise. If you think that’s the same standard that we apply to other prejudices in public life, I am very curious as to why you do so.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Couldn’t the same logic be used to argue that everyone in favor of cutting welfare spending in the US is a racist?

                It can be and it is!Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Will Truman says:

                I think, as far as imperfect comparisons go, this one is actually pretty good. As with Anti-Zionism, there’s a reason that this political movement will attract bigots: if you hate black people, then it’s hardly crazy to oppose having the federal government spend money on programs for the (disproportionately Black) poor. If you hate the Jews, you’ll probably not be a fan of the Jewish state. Alternatively, if you have a bunch of problems with the behavior of the Jewish state for long enough, you may find yourself hating the Jews. But the fact that antisemitism is associated with this movement in this way doesn’t mean, as @leeesq seems to be saying, that it’s fair to treat the movement as synonymous with antisemitism.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Kant jumps up and bites us in the ass.

                The problem is that the arguments in service to a robust multiculturalism are now turning out to be in opposition to any ethnostate at all.

                Or Hillel, if you’re not into Kant.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

                (Yeah, to be honest, I read that and thought “is he setting that up just so someone else can knock it down?”)Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m sure that there are people people on the internet who would say this, but my guess is that “All Republicans are Racist” is not a position that any of the regular commenters here would espouse. Now, “The Republican Party is far too quick to accept the support of racists/quietly appeal to racists/encourage the racism of racists” is a whole different story. And if @leeesq had said something like that with respect to BDS, rather than a blanket statement that anti-Zionists are bigots until proven otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have put him on blast.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Don Zeko says:

                is not a position that any of the regular commenters here would espouse

                But are we talking about here or are we talking about the places where BDS is going on?

                Because I’m pretty sure that the places where BDS is going on are also places that point out that cutting welfare is racist.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well ok, so we agree that that’s a dumb argument that oversimplifies the world in order to demonize their opponents.Report

              • dragonfrog in reply to Jaybird says:


                “That cutting welfare is racist” is not the same as “that those in favour of cutting welfare are racist”.

                The former is observing the existence of structural racism, pointing out that the impact of welfare cuts are racially disparate, and from there arguing that the measure is itself reinforcing the aforementioned structural racism – that old “racism without racists”

                The latter is imputing motives to those whose head one does not occupy.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to dragonfrog says:

                It would be nice if those so attuned to institutional racism could be attuned to institutional anti-Semitism.

                On one of Loomis rants about Israel on LGM, a commentator pointed out that he or she agrees with Loomis on Israel but thinks that by ignoring the history of anti-Semitism they are making some bad strategical decisions.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Don Zeko says:

                On a practical level, anybody who really wants to do something to help that Palestinians is going to have to at least convince the Jews in Israel that a Palestinian state will not be a security threat. They might even need to convince most of the global Jewish community. When examples of rank Jew-hatred keep appearing in Palestinian culture, the Muslim world, and their supporters than you really aren’t going to be that convincing to the Jews.

                Most pro-Palestinian supporters see Israel through the prism of European imperialism and white racism towards people of color. Jews see it differently. Its been less than a century since one-third of the Jewish population was killed in the Holocaust. Even after that there were progroms in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The Jews stuck in the Soviet Union and a few other countries like Syria or Ethiopia were horribly persecuted. Pro-Palestinian people might see Israel has an “evil racist white colonial settler state” but Jews see it as a source of security in an insecure world and the one place where we can always call on the state to defend us.

                Jewish Lives Matter.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to LeeEsq says:

                This is changing the subject, is it not? I didn’t object to a claim that there are a number of anti-Semites that are anti-Zionists, or to a claim that Jews have historical cause to be particularly wary of anti-Semitism. I objected to your blanket claim that all Anti-Zionists are anti-Semites until proven otherwise, with no account given of how they might prove that they aren’t.Report

              • InMD in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Changing the subject is exactly the point of the accusation. You don’t even need to be an anti-Zionist to wonder why it’s in the interest of American citizens for our government to give cover for Israel’s construction projects in the West Bank.Report

          • notme in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            how the BDS crowd quickly goes into anti-Semitism.

            I thought the BDS crowed was most about left anti-Semitism?Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:


        And the right-wing fringe of paleocons.

        The issue is whether the anti-Israel chorus is growing louder or not and whether younger voters are becoming more critical of Israel or not. I’ve seen mixed polls but the current state of anti-Israel politics on campus is hotter than it has been for a while.Report

        • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Well it’d probably help if Israel stopped shooting itself in the face on the public relations front.Report

          • j r in reply to North says:

            Quite the opposite. Israel does a great job on public relations, just not with the public at large.Report

            • North in reply to j r says:

              Err yes, I’m mainly referring to their politics since Arafat shuffled off to the bosom of Allah. They’re not doing hot with their young diaspora with their current “the status quos is just fine thanks” position let along non-Jewish folks.Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to j r says:

              Does most of the public care one way or another? Its easy to find Internet commentators that hate Netanyahu and Likud but the ordinary public doesn’t really care that much.Report

            • j r in reply to j r says:


              I don’t know about that. Support for Israel is pretty strong with American Jews of all ages. It’s often the one “right leaning” issue for folks who are otherwise quite progressive. There are exceptions, but Israel and the Diaspora as a whole do a pretty good job on this. Just spent the weekend with a couple of college friends who have a young child in a Jewish school and they were talking about the need to provide balance at home on the Israel issue. My friends are half hippies and the exception on this sort of thing.

              How many young people come back from Birthright feeling less support for Israel?


              That is precisely my point. In politics, high levels of support among a concentrated group of people with access to the political system will always outweigh a general negative sentiment in the population as a hole. Israel has a pretty high lecel of support among American Jews and evangelicals, two groups with higher than average political participation rates.

              Y’all remember that SNL skit of Republican senators trying to outdo each other in supporting Israel? Mostly I remember it because it was in of the few times that I found Kenan Thompson funny.

              Heck, Obama is viewed as relatively cool on Israel and worse on Netanyahu and that manifests itself in some minor controversy over the fact that he wants the Israeli government to spend all of the record-breaking military and package he is offering in US made weapons instead of spending some on Israeli made weapons.Report

              • North in reply to j r says:

                @j-r In absolute terms it’s definitely still strong of course but over the last decade and change it’s cooled somewhat. You can find articles fretting about it periodically at the Jerusalem Post et all. Outside the diaspora it’s cooled more too and Bibi’s attempt to turn Israel into a partisan question in the US sure as hell didn’t help.

                I’m not saying that it’s weak currently, just that the indicators aren’t pointing in a favorable direction.Report

            • Kolohe in reply to j r says:

              j r:
              Quite the opposite. Israel does a great job on public relations, just not with the public at large.

              The only government that’s better at this are the Saudis.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to North says:

        Does Israel count as culture war?

        If you reduce all principles&policies and the correlated support for them to expressions of culture, then everything is a culture war. Even principles&policies opposed to the P&Ps expressing cultural differences.Report

  3. Damon says:

    When the gov’t contracts with private actors for services, they server the people, all the people. Limits like this tend to restrict competitive bidding and set up artificial discrimination actions by the gov’t, the servants of the people. As such, they should remain neutral.

    Let the citizens of new york whether to decide to support these companies or not.Report

  4. dragonfrog says:

    Setting aside
    – whether BDS is a reasonable idea or not,
    – whether the BDS movement as a whole is composed of antisemites or just doing a miserable job of stopping the antisemites among them from being their public face,
    – whether this action by NY state is in any way constitutional,
    – probably a number of other questions I haven’t thought of,

    how on Earth does Cuomo expect to enforce such a law? How would a company without any suppliers in Israel go about proving that that was simply a business decision rather than a deliberate choice to exclude them?Report

    • Kolohe in reply to dragonfrog says:

      I’m pretty sure the first rule of BDS club is to tell anyone and everyone you’re part of BDS club.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Kolohe says:

        I hesitate to get into that because there’s already enough vigorous agreement in this thread that BDS is a bunch of antisemites, and I’m actually curious if anyone has an answer to the question I posed. When I said “setting aside” I really was hoping to set aside those issues for a moment.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to dragonfrog says:

          Basically, as with most things, as long as you discriminate quietly you’ll likely get away with it.Report

          • dragonfrog in reply to Will Truman says:

            Though per

            Moreover, the burden of proof will be on businesses placed on a provisional list to prove that they aren’t affiliated with BDS organizations, not on the state to prove that they are,

            there seems no actual requirement of evidence, a suspicion of communistanti-Israel sentiment puts the onus on the accused.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to dragonfrog says:

          Someone who says “We’re boycotting Israel” makes it pretty easy for the government to identify that someone as…boycotting Israel, regardless of the merits of boycotting Israel, the merits of the someones who are boycotting Israel, and the merits of the government refusing to do business with someone who is boycotting Israel.Report

          • dragonfrog in reply to Kolohe says:

            OK, so putting a “this store boycotts Israeli products” sign in your window makes it pretty clear you’re boycotting Israel.

            Putting a “this store does not offer Israeli products” sign could sound like you’re boycotting Israel, but then in context / plausible deniability it could be an FAQ answer a la “We apologize to our customers who would love to buy products from Israel, but we do not stock them, and would not wish those customers to have to waste their time searching our shelves in vain. Ask us for recommendations of excellent local businesses stocking Israeli products.”

            Putting a “this store offers products from the following countries [list of countries not including Israel]” sign up has no obvious implications of a boycott, but would probably warm the heart of a BDS believer.

            Makes sense I guess.Report

            • dragonfrog in reply to dragonfrog says:

              (In other words – the law will likely have little to no effect)Report

              • Will Truman in reply to dragonfrog says:

                Boycotts thrive on publicity, though. If a company or individual can’t actually announce they’re boycotting, they’re less likely to do so. They have a harder time creating a movement to boycott.

                In the end, it’s an effort to stifle speech and coordination of an Israeli boycott. That’s not nothing.Report

              • dragonfrog in reply to Will Truman says:

                As you may have caught from my comment above, I agree with you that it’s not nothing – specifically, I think it’s quite McCarthyesque.

                I see what you mean – the BDS movement is a lot more effective if a big business is willing to publicly say “In accordance with the principles of the BDS movement, we will re-establish ties with Israeli suppliers only once the Israeli government will do X, Y, and Z,” rather than just silently not renewing those contracts and acting coy when the organizers of the BDS movement try to claim their doing so as a success of their campaign.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to dragonfrog says:

          I suppose I am participating in the boycott of West Virginia in solidarity with my transgender siblren.

          I suppose I am also participating in the boycott of Israel in solidarity with my Palestinian homies.

          It’s not like I’m buying goods from either place or doing touristy stuff there or anything.

          And yet, from where you’re sitting, does it feel like I’m an active participant?

          I can easily see how my statements of solidarity were snortworthy.

          Even though, truly, I’m not buying goods from either place or doing touristy stuff there.Report

          • dragonfrog in reply to Jaybird says:

            I would think that to be effectively boycotting any entity, you would have to actually write a letter indicating your participation in the boycott, ideally highlighting the products you would or used to buy, and outlining the actions the entity could take that would result in your ceasing your boycott.

            But then my view of what constitutes a meaningful boycott doesn’t seem to be very widespread – most calls to “boycott” a business I’ve ever seen, only call on people not to buy particular products; they provide no contact information for the company, or even any hint that communication as an essential part of a boycott action, had occurred to the one calling for the action. Some of them don’t even seem to include the concept that a boycott is trying to achieve some change in the boycotted entity’s actions, such that the boycott would have terms under which it would be lifted.

            “Boycott Monsanto you say? Until they make what concrete change in their behaviour?”

            (blank stare)Report

            • Aaron Warfield in reply to dragonfrog says:

              I always thought the Monsanto boycots were to destroy them as a company, so what changes could they make?Report

              • dragonfrog in reply to Aaron Warfield says:

                Fair enough then – I wouldn’t use the term “boycott” in that case, but at least that’s a tangible goal to the action.Report

              • Aaron Warfield in reply to dragonfrog says:

                I think boycott works fine, but trying to articulate changes in specific would be a waste of time, as in that example, the goal is termination of all activites.

                This may be the same goal most BSD supporteres have in regards to Isreal, although articulating that would be difficult in the specific mechanisms needed to achieve it. So asking your question might still be met with a blank stare from most supporters, but I think you would find that with most political actions.Report

          • Francis in reply to Jaybird says:

            Various SoCon groups have boycotted Disney on and off over the years. When asked for comment, I imagine Disney’s off-the-record response was something like: “If they were really SoCons they wouldn’t be coming here anyway. And have you seen our traffic numbers?”Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Kolohe says:

        FWIW I’m(arguably) a data point to the contrary.

        That is, I’m not sure if I’m in “BDS club” as you’d define it, but I do believe that sanctions against Israel, along with clearly defined measures the Israeli state could take to get those sanctions lifted, is probably a good idea. In the absence of individual states’ willingness to do so, it probably falls to organized civil society (the various states of the world being largely either in the “Israel can do no right” or “Israel can do no wrong” camps, such that state sanctions are either already in place and realistically unliftable, or realistically unimposable).

        And, I very much hesitate to speak about the subject, because there is so very much antisemitic hatred around the world, and a great deal of antisemitic rhetoric surrounding the BDS movement, with which I really don’t want to associate myself.

        – When planning a dinner party, how can you tell if one of your guests is a vegan?
        – Oh don’t worry – they’ll tell you.

        Which is pretty funny and rings true because you only know about the vegans who’ve made a point of telling you, therefore you assume everyone who hasn’t told you obviously isn’t a vegan.Report