New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind has issued the following press release:

December 24, 2013

HIKIND CALLS ON AG SCHNEIDERMAN TO ADDRESS ASA’S ILLEGAL BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL

DERSHOWITZ JOINS HIKIND IN CONDEMNING ‘BIGOTED BOYCOTT’ WHICH VIOLATES NEW YORK STATE HUMAN RIGHTS LAW

Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) called upon New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today to address a violation of New York State’s Human Rights Law by the American Studies Association (ASA). On December 16, the ASA—an association of American professors with nearly 5,000 members—voted to endorse an academic boycott of Israeli colleges and universities, calling on American schools and academic groups to ban collaboration with Israeli institutions. Renowned legal expert Professor Alan M. Dershowitz joined Hikind in condemning the ASA’s bigoted boycott.

“This action by the ASA is a flagrant violation of New York State’s Human Rights Law,”said Assemblyman Hikind in a letter to Schneiderman, citing section Executive Law Article 15, 296.13, which addresses unlawful discriminatory practices. “This flagrant act of discrimination on the part of the ASA singles out only one of the 192 member nations of the United Nations. It seems clear that it does so not because of Israel’s U.N.-condemned disputes with its geographical neighbors, as such disputes are common. Moreover, Curtis Marez, the group’s president and an associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, admitted to the New York Timesthat ‘many nations, including Israel’s neighbors, are generally judged to have human rights records that are worse than Israel’s.’ Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own citizens, including children, was condemned by all.

“So why did the ASA single out Israel for a boycott? Because Israel is the Jewish nation,” said Assemblyman Hikind.

“Academic freedom is destroyed by academic boycotts,” added Professor Dershowitz, “and the academic boycott against Israel is particularly bigoted because Israel has more academic freedom for all its citizens—Jewish, Christian, Muslim—than almost any other country in the world.”

New York State Executive Law Article 15, 296.13, states: “It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice (i) for any person to boycott or blacklist, or refuse to buy from, sell to or trade with, or otherwise discriminate against any person, because of the race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, or disability of such person, or of such person’s partners, members, stockholders, directors, officers, managers, superintendents, agents, employees, business associates, suppliers or customers, or (ii) for any person willfully to do any act or refrain from doing any act which enables such person to take such action.”

“Boycotting Israel and Israelis—many of which hold dual citizenship with the United States, and many of which are New York residents—punishes scholars simply because of their nationality,” said Hikind. “If that’s not a violation of the Human Rights law, what is?”

I was on a radio show last week hosted by Hikind and had a chance to explain this law.

This provision of the NYS Human Rights Law was a specific reaction to the Arab League boycott of Israel, which also led to federal anti-boycott laws. The Human Rights Law language is quite clear and more broad than the federal legislation. Since ASA has many NY members and does business in NY, there certainly is jurisdiction.

(Featured Image Source: NYS AG Eric Schneiderman announcing new Charity Disclosure Rules)