NY State Bill to make a monitored list of people & groups promoting Israeli divestment. McCarthyist?

Per the article below it sounds kind of weird that New York State would actually become involved on a policy level in what is essentially a political protest exercise, but they are moving to pass a bill to this effect and make it a law. Isn’t this kid of a questionable position for the state to take re deciding who is on the right side in this investment-divestment battle to the extent they will make a monitored list of the pro-divestment groups and saying NY State will then not do business (as a state policy) with those in favor of divestment?

Is New York State About to Create a Blacklist of BDS Supporters?

This raises “McCarthyism” to a whole new level.

I would hope that any such law would be struck down on Constitutional ground (freedom of association) before it even tried to compile such an “enemies list”.

All we need is some bozo to wave a laundry list around and announce he “has a list” of Enemies of the State.

Yikes. If the article is true then that’s a pretty brazen attempt by pro-Israel groups to squash dissent.  I guess that makes Saban and Adelson a sort of Jewish version of the Koch brothers.

If it passes I wonder if it could be challenged with SCOTUS. That could lead to a back lash against Israel.

It’s screwy, and, pro-Israel as I am, I don’t approve.


Back in the 80s, there was divestiture with South Africa, including governments taking away investments from companies that did business with South Africa. This appeared, at the time, to be legal.

So…what if a government stopped investing in companies that stopped investing in South Africa? It’s getting terribly involute, but what law, or constitutional clause, is being violated?

There’s no First Amendment right to do business with the government. Governments already impose all manner of non-discrimination requirements upon their contractors. If you thought it was constitutional for the Obama administration to issue an executive order barring federal agencies from doing business with companies that don’t provide workplace protections for LGBT workers, you shouldn’t have any problem with the legality of the NY bill.

Politically, of course, one might disagree with this bill. Even there, though, it strikes me as a little ironic for boycotters to complain about being boycotted.

Can a government just decide not to do business with a company? What if the company is owned by a protected class? What if Texas decides not to do any business with companies that supports abortion? This seems like a poor precedent to start but I admit I don’t exactly know which law it would violate.

“Doing business with Israel” or even “supporting abortion” are not protected classes.

But, yes, definitely, I agree with your reluctance to follow this precedent. It could lead to all sorts of punitive contract regulations, and retaliatory measures, and the like. Everyone would get caught up in a horrid net of “I’m not buying from you, because you’re not buying from him, because he’s buying from that guy, who does business with people who do…or don’t…do business with a guy who lives next door to a supporter of Israel.”

Even if it’s totally legal to go down this road…it’s a bad and dangerous and messy road.

(I hated South Africa as much as anyone, but never really felt good about divestment. I’m more of a “constructive engagement” aficionado.)

Reminds me of the whole McCarthy thing? Yes. But I always have faith that New York will propose something on the State level I find strange at least yearly if not more often.

Note the phrase " if passed by the NYS Assembly and signed into law. ". NYS has plenty of these one-house bills passed every year. The Senate is Republicans run the Senate and the Democrats the Assembly, so they go nowhere. Further the two houses are run by their leaders; the Assembly speaker has veto power.

I’m guessing this was just a way to court the Jewish vote and will go no further.

There is also a longstanding and even broader federal law that prohibits US companies from participating in the Arab League boycott of Israel.

Because our company sometimes has government contracts, I’ve been trained about this. If anyone ever asked me if we do business in Israel, or buy fron Israeli vendors, or anything along those lines, I’d be legally obligated to refuse to answer the question, and to report the incident to the State Department. I’ve never actually gotten any such question, however.

Incidentally, there’s also a list of a half-dozen countries that it is illegal for any US company to do business with, unless they have a special license from the State Department. They’re pretty much all the countries you would expect: Syria, Sudan, Cuba (still on the list), North Korea, Iran, and Myanmar (Burma).

It’s only McCarthyism when it offends liberals.

See Trinopus’s comments upthread.
Nobody mentioned McCarthy when is was popular to boycott South Africa.
Nobody mentions McCarthy when they try to boycott , say, businesses that discriminate against gays.

But when you support Palestinians, all boycotts are legitimate.

The US goverment has laws preventing discrimination on faith or national origin. Enforcing those laws can be tricky, and yes, politics is involved.

But it sure ain’t McCarthyism.

The proposed bill is a bad idea in my opinion, as organizations/businesses’ policies on this issue should not prohibit state funds from going to them for legitimate purposes.

It also isn’t “McCarthyism”. At least I don’t recall Tailgunner Joe focusing on making sure Congressional dollars didn’t go to pinkos (he and his cronies got a bit more involved than that).

In general, I am wary of the idea of punishing/rewarding those who do business with the government on the basis of their political beliefs/activism. Obama seems intent on forcing federal contractors to disclose their indirect political contributions as a condition of bidding on government work. This seems less aimed at curbing cronyism and undue influence, and more like a strategy to reward friends and stunt donations to groups the Administration doesn’t like.

This is a really, really stupid thing to say. This is not a boycott. It is a government prohibition on a boycott. It is unlike any of your examples (except South African investment, which was a direct ban on foreign trade with a specific country rather than a ban aimed at intent).

Huh? No one is discussing whether boycotts are legitimate. People are discussing whether it’s legitimate for the government to create a monitored list of everyone involved in a boycott.

Lest there be any confusion, I don’t really see anything unconstitutional about the proposed law. It’s bad policy, but there’s no law against bad policy.

Sorry for not being clear.
What I meant was that the US Government has decided that the boycott is not legitimate. Boycotting Israeli citizens and universities, may, in fact, be illegal discrimination.
Therefore the government is taking action to prevent Anerican citizens from encouraging illegal activity.

It’s a legal and political decision–but it is not McCarthyism.

The US government is not involved in this.

I think the McCarthyism connection is the government keeping a blacklist of people/companies that don’t conform to a particular political ideal. I believe that part of the comparison is appropriate. One difference (for now) is that the proposed NY law doesn’t have the same national scope.

The New York law does nothing to prohibit the BDS boycott; if it did, I think it might indeed run into First Amendment issues. It is the NY state government, in its capacity as a commercial actor, counter-boycotting supporters of the BDS movement. It is exactly like the executive order by which the US government, in its capacity as a commercial actor, is boycotting companies that lack workplace protections for LGBT employees.

The federal anti-boycott statute, I think, qualifies as a prohibition on a boycott, probably justifiable as an exercise of the federal government’s foreign-policy authority.