Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino is leading the effort to convince United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to sign on to a bipartisan federal proposal that fights back against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and its economic warfare against the State of Israel.
Supervisor Santino, Councilman Bruce Blakeman and Councilman Anthony D’Esposito urged New York’s junior United States Senator to co-sponsor the bipartisan Combatting BDS Act of 2017, designated as S.170. In a recent letter to Gillibrand’s Capitol Hill office, the Hempstead Town leaders said that her co-sponsorship of the measure is needed to respond to the dangerous Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“Congress has a distinguished history of defending the Jewish State from attacks like the BDS Movement, which seeks to financially and commercially discriminate against the Jewish State. That’s why it’s important for Senator Gillibrand to help lead the charge on the anti-BDS measure. We hope she can stand on the right side of history with us,” said Supervisor Santino.
The federal measure is sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and has 33 total co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. Senator Charles Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, is a co-sponsor of the legislation. Gillibrand is not.
In the previous Congressional Session, Gillibrand also did not sponsor similar legislation entitled the Combatting BDS Act of 2016, designated as S.2531. That bipartisan bill was also co-sponsored by Schumer.
Santino, Blakeman and D’Esposito contrasted the junior senator’s historical silence on Anti-BDS measures with her published position, which states she will “continue to strengthen America’s close relationship with Israel, our historic and closest ally in the Middle East.” (Source: Gillibrand Senate website)
Santino noted that the federal proposal supports efforts by local communities, like Hempstead Town, and state governments to use the power of the purse to counter the BDS movement’s economic warfare targeting Israel.
“This federal legislation is an important step forward for our federal government to reassure Israel that we are protecting our shared national security interests, while also protecting our joint economic interests,” stated Councilman Bruce Blakeman.
“We are jointly asking Senator Gillibrand to co-sponsor this bipartisan proposal to gives state and local governments, like Hempstead Town, another legal way to combat the shameful boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel - our strongest ally in the Middle East,” added Councilman Anthony D’Esposito.
Last year, Santino, Blakeman and D’Esposito sponsored and passed in a unanimous bipartisan vote one of the first Anti-BDS measures in any New York municipality. Their local law bars town contracts with individuals and companies that boycott not only Israel but also the United States’ allies.
Specifically, the Hempstead Town law requires 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.
While Hempstead Town took it’s own affirmative steps to lead the way 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 – Santino, Blakeman and D’Esposito are seeking support of this federal proposal from Senator Gillibrand. Her co-sponsorship would send a strong message: like Hempstead Town, both Senators from New York will not tolerate bigotry and anti-Semitism within the United States.
“Standing up for what’s right is part of being a leader. BDS is just another term for anti-Semitism. Senator Gillibrand has an opportunity to co-sponsor this commonsense, pro-Israel proposal. It will signal that both United States Senators from New York State will not tolerate bigotry and anti-Semitism anywhere in the nation,” Santino concluded.