Photo Credit: Pat Arnow / Grand Street News
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, along with Dov Hikind and 46 more Assembly Members, are pushing a bill to squash the ASA boycott in NY State. Write your Assemblyperson to add his/her name to the list.

A bill introduced in the New York State Assembly would suspend funding to educational institutions which fund groups that boycott Israel.

The legislation, introduced earlier this month by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and first reported by Mondoweiss, an anti-Zionist news site, would ban state funding to colleges which fund groups that boycott “in countries that host higher education institutions chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York.”

A08392 “Prohibits the use of state aid by colleges and universities to fund or provide membership in academic institutions that are boycotting a country or higher education institutions of a country.”

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The intent of the bill, according to its sponsors, is spelled out:

The legislature hereby finds that it is beneficial to students of this state to have access to an education that is not bound by borders and to have the opportunity to obtain a global education. The legislature further finds that it is important that New York State undertake efforts to ensure that its students succeed in a world that is continually becoming more interdependent and diverse and further that students have access to international higher education institutions. A global education allows students to connect, compete, and cooperate with their peers around the world. Therefore it is the policy of the State of New York that colleges not use state funds to support boycotts of countries, or higher education institutions located in countries, that host higher education institutions chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York.

The bill, which currently has 48 sponsors out of 150 members, would cut funding to institutions that pay dues to groups such as the ASA or which subsidize travel to its conferences.

A number of New York-based universities have Israel branches, and Silver made clear in a statement that the target was groups that boycott Israel. According to Mondoweiss, while the word “Israel” is not mentioned in the bill, New York’s Regents board has certified institutions located in Israel, Lebanon, the Czech Republic and Hungary—and one of these states are obviously not like the others.

Also, Assembly Speaker Silver—my representative from the Lower East Side, may God grant him health and many long years, has made clear that he introduced the bill “in response to the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israel and its academic institutions.”

“Colleges should not use funds to support boycotts, resolutions or any similar actions that are discriminatory and limit academic opportunities,” Silver said in the statement.

The ASA was one of three U.S. academic groups to boycott Israeli academic institutions last year.

The legislation was criticized by Dima Khalidi, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Legal Support group as unconstitutional. Khalidi wrote MW that, in her view, boycotts are speech, and that the First Amendment also prohibits public officials from denying public benefits as a way of censoring speech activities.

She would have had a point, had the protections of the First Amendment clearly included Hate Speech. Should the case go all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, it would be interesting to see if they extend the BDS the same rights they did corporations. I welcome comments from the legal professionals in our crowd.

The teeth of the new bill are in this segment: “Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, no college shall be eligible for state aid during the academic year that such college is in violation…”

It means, I believe, that while the school is struggling through the appeals process, grounds worker Willie must go without pay. It’s kinda’ thuggish, and, for once, It’s fun to be on the side of the thugs…

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11 COMMENTS

  1. A stupid law from a crooked idiot. No, I don't support BDS. Quite the opposite, But what if I organized a group to boycott Iran? North Korea? Syria? Bolivia? Venezuela? Leave the First Amendment alone.

  2. the first amendment bans public funds from groups from being denied public funding because of their stance – however, it will take ages to get their but must be done to stop others legistrtive bodies doing it…..in the meantine if the asa say they will not give funds to any israeli body who does not sign a clause saying i will not go to israeli entities in the west bank or gaza, this will make it harder for pro-israeli lobbies to past such laws, because under american law neither the west back or gaza is part of israel

  3. the first amendment bans public funds from being denied to groups because of their stance – however, it will take ages to get it to the supreme court but must be done to stop others legistrtive bodies doing it…..in the meantine if the asa say they will not give funds to any israeli body who does not sign a clause saying i will not go to israeli entities in the west bank or gaza, this will make it harder for pro-israeli lobbies to past such laws, because under american law neither the west back or gaza is part of israel

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