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Letter: Shame on Senate for passing a bill to blacklist protesters

Shame on Senate for passing a bill to blacklist protesters

Recent action by the New York State Senate did little to bolster confidence in government. We refer to the Senate’s passage, without debate, of a bill designed to undermine the right of individuals and businesses in New York to join boycotts to protest Israeli human rights violations against the Palestinian people. This bill would prevent any person or company participating in a boycott related to Israeli human rights abuses from doing business with the state of New York. Also, the state’s pension fund would have to divest from such companies.

Human rights abuses take place daily in the occupied territories. Israel has encouraged Jewish settlers to steal the land of Palestinians who are ruled by a repressive military regime. These “settlements” are major stumbling blocks to peace and are regarded as illegal by the international community. Today there are 650,000 Israeli settlers. In this arid land, settlers have also seized water resources.

We should never forget the role boycotts played in achieving civil rights in the United States and ending apartheid in South Africa. Now, as Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter and many other leaders have proclaimed, we face another form of apartheid that deserves similar condemnation and opposition.

Shame on the State Senate for passing a bill that would blacklist prestigious organizations, like Human Rights Watch, which have called on companies to stop doing business with the settlements. If you believe in free speech and social justice, please insist that your Assembly member and Gov. Andrew Cuomo reject this morally repugnant bill.

Nan and Walter Simpson

Amherst