New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared, “If you boycott Israel, New York State will boycott you,” and signed an executive order calling for divestment from companies that boycott the Jewish state – but that was in 2016 and he is now being called upon to follow through.
Cuomo, who delivered a public address and authored a Washington Post op-ed to announce the 2016 order, has been silent ever since Ben & Jerry’s announced that it was going to cease selling its products in the West Bank due to the presence of Jewish settlements in the territory.
“I call on him to enforce his order that bans the State of New York from doing business with companies that engage in the anti-Semitic BDS movement,” Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., told the New York Post in reference to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement that targets Israel.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., pointed to the increase of anti-Semitic incidents in New York, telling the newspaper that “it’s critically important for the state to reinforce its position and show support for members of our Jewish community.”
Republicans are not the only ones calling on Cuomo to take action. Former Democratic New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind posted a video statement to Twitter on Sunday in which he implored Cuomo to follow through on his 2016 order.
“Where is the governor now to act while this boycott is going on? Why is the governor not speaking out?” Hikind asked.
“Governor Cuomo, you got a lot of attention for doing the right thing in 2016,” Hikind added. “Now is your opportunity to act against the anti-Semitic BDS movement directed against the Jewish people. We are waiting to hear from you.”
The BDS initiative is aimed at trying to harm Israel’s economy and public image by getting companies and organizations to cease doing business there. Ben & Jerry’s stated that while it will not sell its ice cream in the West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria, it will still do business in Israel itself.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee said they “warmly welcome” Ben & Jerry’s decision, which they said came “[f]ollowing years of #BDS campaigns.” They went on to urge the company to pull out of Israel altogether.
Cuomo’s 2016 order specifically mentioned the BDS movement, stating that “the State of New York unequivocally rejects the BDS campaign and stands firmly with Israel,” and that “the State of New York will not permit its own investment activity to further the BDS campaign in any way, shape or form, whether directly or indirectly.”
To that end, the executive order called on the commissioner of the Office of General Services to form a list of entities that boycott Israel, and for the state to divest assets and cease further investments into those entities. The order also says the list shall be updated every 180 days, allowing for new entities to be added. Those on the list can be removed if they show that they are not part of the boycott effort.
Fox News reached out to Cuomo’s office asking if the governor has any comment on the matter and if the state intends to add Ben & Jerry’s or its parent company Unilever to the list, but they did not immediately respond. Cuomo’s senior adviser Rich Azzopardi told the Post that “this is under legal review.”
Unilever said in a statement that they “remain fully committed to our presence in Israel,” and pointed to their 2000 acquisition agreement with Ben & Jerry’s that “recognised the right of the brand and its independent Board to take decisions about its social mission.”