New York may block Israel boycotts

By Tom Tugend, February 6, 2014

A bill to suspend state financial support to universities and colleges that help fund organisations boycotting Israel was overwhelmingly adopted by the New York State Senate last week.

The bill, introduced by Democratic Senator Jeffrey Klein, passed on a 56-4 vote.

If signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the state’s higher education system would be barred from paying dues to groups, such as the American Studies Association, which has voted to boycott Israeli universities.

The bill’s language does not specifically mention Israel but prohibits state universities from funding organisations that “have undertaken an official action boycotting certain countries and their higher education institutions”.

However, Mr Klein’s office released a statement that clearly pointed to the target of the bill. “This legislation sends a very simple message, which is that we should never ask taxpayers to support religious, ethnic or racial discrimination. I will not allow the enemies of Israel or the Jewish people to gain an inch in New York.”

Also this week, a New York State Assembly bill with the same objective as the Senate law was withdrawn for reconsideration ahead of a planned vote.

Last updated: 7:45pm, February 6 2014