Hempstead Town Fights Back Against BDS Movement; Santino Proposes Legislation to Prohibit Town Contracts with Individuals, Companies That Boycott America, Israel, Allies

Under a new proposal, Hempstead Town is taking part in a growing nation-wide effort to stand firmly opposed to the BDS Movement which attempts to isolate Israel and other U.S. allies from the international community.

Helping to preserve the integrity of American democracy, as well as the sovereignty of Israel and other U.S. allies, Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino, Councilman Bruce Blakeman and Councilman Anthony D’Esposito announced that the town will be the among the first municipalities in New York State to consider legislation that would prohibit town government from doing business with individuals or companies that openly boycott against America, Israel and other allies. This new legislative proposal will ensure that the Town of Hempstead will only contract with entrepreneurs who are friendly and reject acts of hate and economic hostility. 

Supervisor Santino, Councilman Blakeman and Councilman D’Esposito stood in solidarity at Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst, along with a cadre of area rabbis and religious leaders, Five Towns business owners and other officials to speak out against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.  

Town officials and others slammed the movement as anti-Semitic and an attack on economic cooperation between the United States and Israel, as well as other allies. The leaders also decried the movement’s highly organized campaign that has acutely targeted Israel, seeking to undermine the nation’s sovereignty.

“BDS is just an ugly term for anti-Semitism. Our free market economy is the foundation of a strong democratic society, but we cannot in good conscience stand with businesses that are hostile to the United States, Israel and our other allies around the world,” stated Supervisor Santino. “My administration will continue to fight bigotry, anti-Semitism, acts of hatred and all efforts designed to undermine the sovereignty of Israel and this nation’s other allies. Standing against the BDS movement is a key step in this fight.”

“The Town of Hempstead is responding to the dangerous Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that specifically targets peaceful nations, especially Israel,” said Councilman Blakeman, who has recently met with high-level government and military officials in Israel. Added Councilman D’Esposito, “I am proud to stand alongside Supervisor Santino, Councilman Blakeman, Rabbi Teitelbaum, Five Towns business owners and other officials to show our support for the United States, Israel and other American allies.”

The proposed law would require individuals or companies seeking to do business with the town to submit a certification that they do not – and will not for the duration of the contract – engage in a boycott of the United States of America and its allies, which include Israel, all NATO member nations, signatories of the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization, signatories of the Rio Treaty of 1947 (excluding Venezuela), Ireland, Japan, and The Republic of Korea. Violations of this law could result in the town rescinding a contract.

“Israel is America’s closest ally in the Middle East, a relationship built upon our nations’ common values and interests,” said Rabbi Dov Schwartz, former rabbi of Congregation B’Nai Shalom in Rockville Centre and North Woodmere resident. “Enacting this new legislation places the Town of Hempstead on the right side of history as it joins the growing list of municipalities taking legislative action to root out the BDS message of hatred and exclusion.”

Supervisor Santino, along with Councilmen Blakemen and D’Esposito, held a May 17th conference call with Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely to discuss this important matter. The Deputy Foreign Minister thanked town officials for their support in fighting the BDS movement.

Supervisor Santino and Councilman Blakeman have been committed to combating incidents of discrimination and hate speech in local communities. Last year, responding to an airplane flying a swastika banner over town beaches, the town called on New York State to strengthen laws prohibiting the display of swastikas in public places. The town also partners with law enforcement organizations and religious institutions in responding to hateful graffiti and vandalism of houses of worship and other locations.

Santino will call for a public hearing at the May 24th Hempstead Town Board meeting, and the actual hearing on the matter will be scheduled for June 21st.

“Standing up for what’s right is part of being a leader,” concluded Santino. “I will always stand with patriotic Americans in support of Israel and our other allies. BDS is just another term for anti-Semitism and will not be tolerated by municipal government.”