Readers Write: Town anti-BDS legislation misguided, misplaced

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This letter is in reference to the existing Town of North Hempstead ’s ordinance prohibiting business with any entity that boycotts, sanctions, or prohibits investment in Israel.

This ordinance deceptively regulates such actions as ant-Semitism.  

In reality, it is a dangerous restriction on the right to use boycotts to advocate for human rights. While it claims to target discrimination, there is no question that the resolution is intended to penalize the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian human rights.

This restriction on our liberty is not necessary.

Contractors are already required to certify that they will not discriminate; including ant-Semitism. The resolution is redundant.

Under the First Amendment, the right to engage in peaceful boycotts for political purposes is protected as a form of free speech.

The town cannot make someone give up that right as a condition of contracting. Our representatives should be in the business of protecting rights rather than creating blacklists to penalize and intimidate those seeking to exercise their rights.

In our current national political climate, it is imperative that it be made clear that the First Amendment right to the freedom of association and expression is a critical component of our democracy that must remain protected.

This town ordinance restricts and abridges our freedom of expression and association.

This ordinance makes false claims about the boycott.

The boycott is not discriminatory; it targets policies, not people. The boycott, divest and sanction movement is “anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It is a human rights, nonsectarian, inclusive movement that rejects all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism”. Boycott does not target people based on religion, ethnicity or national origin; it targets injustices and human rights violations.

This ordinance is harmful and dangerous in that it actually protects discrimination. It seeks to penalize opposition to correct and justifiable discrimination. This ordinance denigrates the history of the civil rights movement.

It flies in the face of the Montgomery bus boycott, the farm workers boycott movements, South African Apartheid and directly violates the Bill of Rights protecting our liberties.

If this law had been in place at the time of South African apartheid, it would have penalized those who engaged in the boycott of apartheid.

 Nationwide the right to boycott is supported by over 100 organizations.

The National Council of Churches, representing 38 Christian faith groups, 100,000 congregations and 40 million people, have called for “an end to the current wave of legislative efforts to penalize the use of nonviolent economic measures to influence policies in Israel” which by United Nations resolutions have been condemned as anti-humanitarian.

 It is with misplaced political pretensions that the Town of North Hempstead, a subdivision of Nassau County, again a subdivision of New York State should engage in matters belonging and pertaining to the national foreign policy of the United States.

The continuance of this misplaced town anti-boycott ordinance is not only is a disservice to the constitutional and civil rights of its residents but additionally provides a contrivance serving to obfuscate and hinder the resolution of the actual problems.

 James Ansel

Port Washington

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