By Emily Ngo
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed an executive order Sunday morning in Manhattan denouncing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel, saying New York state will not conduct business with companies that participate.
"If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you," Cuomo said.
The Democratic governor called the global BDS movement "more frightening" than terrorist attacks on the Jewish nation.
He spoke as the spotlight on Israel-Palestinian relations grows ahead of the national Democratic Party's presidential nomination convention in July in Philadelphia.
"They're going to mainstream businesses across the world to generate a corporate enemy for Israel, and we cannot allow that to happen," Cuomo said.
He made the announcement hours before New York City's annual Israel Day parade along Fifth Avenue and with dozens of Democratic elected officials assembled at the Harvard Club in midtown.
The BDS campaign is an economic protest of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians, according to advocates of the movement, who say they want the Jewish nation to comply with international human rights law and Palestinian rights.
BDS movement opponents say it seeks to delegitimize the existence of the country.
New York is the first state with an executive action against the BDS movement.
"As a Democrat, I always took for granted that there was a natural relationship with Israel that was unquestionable," Cuomo said. "You now have aspects of the Democratic Party that are being critical of Israel as being disproportionate in its response."
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has called Israel's military response in the 2014 war on Gaza "disproportionate," criticizing the approach that killed 2,000 Palestinians. The Vermont senator also believes Israel has every right to defend itself.
He has appointed pro-Palestinian surrogates to the Democratic Party platform-writing committee.
Cuomo did not mention Sanders by name in his speech, but others, including Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), condemned the senator's position on the platform.
Nadler told reporters he believes the BDS movement is "insidious and anti-Semitic."