The New York Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would prohibit private or public state colleges and universities from spending taxpayers funds on academic groups that support boycotting Israel, Capitol Confidential reported.
The legislation, introduced earlier this month by Democratic Senator Jeff Klien, passed by a vote of 51-4.
This is the first time a legislative body has managed to pass a bill targeting the American Studies Association over its decision to boycott Israel.
“This legislation sends a very simple message, which is that we should never ask taxpayers to support religious, ethnic, or racial discrimination. We need to marginalize the politics of intolerance whenever it rears its ugly head,” Klein said in a statement.
”I will not allow the enemies of Israel or the Jewish people to gain an inch in New York. The First Amendment protects every organization’s right to speak, but it never requires taxpayers to foot the bill,” he added.
Under the new legislation, New York academic institutes could no longer reimburse students or scholars traveling to conventions of the three groups that have voted to boycott Israel: the ASA, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and the Association for Asian American Studies.
In addition, state schools will be henceforth prohibited from paying membership fees to the ASA.
The state will cut off aid to any academic institution that violates the legislation during the academic year the violation occurred.
A companion bill is currently being considered in the New York State Assembly. The bill, which currently has 48 sponsors out of 150 members, was introduced by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
A number of New York-based universities have Israel branches, and Silver made clear in a statement that the target was groups that boycott Israel.
Silver said he initiated the measure “in response to the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israel and its academic institutions.”
“Colleges should not use funds to support boycotts, resolutions or any similar actions that are discriminatory and limit academic opportunities,” he said in the statement.
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