Peace Action New York State challenges U.S. militarism in domestic and foreign policies through grassroots organizing by community and student leaders throughout the State. Together, we can work with elected leaders to create a U.S. foreign policy that promotes human needs, not endless war.
Student Activism is Under Attack: New York State Senate Considering Legislation to Penalize Students Tackling Human Rights, Peace Issues
The New York State Senate is considering legislation that would make our student groups at SUNY colleges INELIGIBLE FOR FUNDING from their universities.
(and don’t you think it is intentional that this legislation was introduced while students are on summer break?)
Under Senate Bill S8017, student groups would be ineligible for funding from student fees if they do any activities that promote, encourage or permit the boycott of an “allied nation”. Boycott is defined as:
“to engage in any activity, or to promote or encourage others to engage in any activity, that will result in any person abstaining from commercial, social or political relations, with any allied nation, or companies based in an allied nation or in territories controlled by an allied nation, with the intent to penalize, inflict, cause harm to or otherwise promote or cast disrepute upon, such allied nation, its people, or its commercial products.”
Under this law, and its definition of “allied nation”, you would be ineligible for funding from a SUNY school if you did any public education to criticize the practice(s) of any of the following countries – or of any corporation operation in any of the following 56 countries:
Albania, Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, the United Kingdom or Uruguay.
17 of these countries, by the way, practice forced and/or child labor, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor.
HOW IT AFFECTS PEACE ACTION NEW YORK STATE
This legislation would have SWEEPING impacts on our Student Network. Under this legislation, these types of campaigns would make a SUNY Peace Action chapter ineligible for school funding:
- Refugee awareness campaigns that discuss how refugees are discriminated against/poorly treated by allied European nations
- Support for the BDS movement/criticism of Israel
- Fair Trade/Free Trade campaigns
- Campaigns against child/forced labor products
- Media freedom campaigns/events that criticize any allied nation (including notorious nations like Italy re: media freedom)
- Opposition to imprisoning/excessive violence against political dissidents, as practiced in any allied nation (common in: Argentina, Albania, Thailand, and many other nations)
- Protests/public education events against violence against women that criticize any allied nation
- Indigenous persons education events that discuss human rights violations by allied nations (common in: Canada, Australia, New Zealand)
- Calling attention to the rejection of rights of ethnic minorities in allied nations (common in: Dominican Republic, France, and many other nations)
- Public education around public health reasons to not travel to allied nations (i.e. Zika virus in South American allied nations)
- Any campaign that casts a negative light on ANY practice – past, present or future – of an “allied nation”, as defined in this legislation.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Send us a comment about how this legislation would impact you, a student group you work with and/or your community – or how this would have impacted you when you were a student. Send comments to: email@example.com
2. Message and Call Your NY State Senator’s Office and Ask Them to OPPOSE S8017.
Find Your Senator: Click Here. You can email them AND call them.
(Please Note: It is, currently, likely that this will pass the Senate. But, we MUST put up a fight & ask our Senators to strongly oppose this bill)
3. Call Your NY State Assembly Member’s Office and WARN THEM that This Legislation is in the Senate and Ask Them to OPPOSE Any Similar Legislation That May Be Introduced In The Assembly.
4. SHARE THIS MESSAGE WITH YOUR MEMBERS, OTHER STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS & OTHER STUDENTS AND ASK THEM TO TAKE ACTION
Remind Governor Cuomo: You Cannot Revoke Our Constitutional Rights Because You Disagree With Our Message
On Sunday, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order to strip activists in the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement of their right to protest.
The Executive Order mandates that State government agencies divest themselves of companies and organizations aligned with the BDS movement, and the NY State government will use public funds to create a “black list” of organizations and companies supporting the BDS campaign.
The BDS campaign aims to pressure Israel economically over its treatment of Palestinians and the illegal occupation of Palestine. Although the campaign is designed to promote human rights, people who disagree with BDS call its campaigners anti-semitic. This accusation ignores the many Jewish individuals and organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace, who support the BDS movement. And, critically important: libelous accusations & slander should never be a basis to restrict or monitor political activism.
Governor Cuomo’s executive order strips activists in the BDS movement of essential, democratic rights. Boycotts are a constitutionally protected form of speech, association and assembly, as determined by the Supreme Court in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 458 U.S. 886 (1982) and affirmed in Connick v. Myers, 461 U.S. 138 (1983). And, boycotts have a long history of being used to successfully apply economic pressure to address great injustices. As activists, we divested from South Africa during apartheid. We boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. We threw British tea into the Boston Harbor. Our right to boycott is protected, and Governor Cuomo must be reminded that he cannot revoke a constitutional right because he disagrees with the protestors employing it.
Kate Alexander, PANYS Director of Policy and Outreach
Boycotts are a constitutionally protected form of speech, association and assembly – and they have a long history of being used successfully to address gross injustices. And, the denial of public contracts and public investment in order to punish speech violates the First Amendment.
But, Governor Cuomo said, “If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you.” We must stand together and oppose this extreme denial of our first amendment rights. Here’s what you can do:
- TODAY: Write a Letter to the Editor to the New York Times in response to this article about Governor Cuomo’s executive order, which will put institutions and companies that engage in BDS on a blacklist? Letters should be 175 words or less and submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org within the next 24 hours.
- Please consider sending letters to other newspapers covering this story as well. Guidelines for writing and submission can usually be found in the newspaper’s opinion section on their website.
Talking points can include:
- This is a McCarthyite attack on a movement for justice and human rights.
- Boycotts have long been a tactic to achieve social change and the movement for Palestinian freedom should not be singled out. In fact, Gov. Cuomo supported the boycott of North Carolina in response to their “bathroom” legislation.
- This move seeks to silence the growing numbers of Americans who support BDS/economic tactics to put pressure on Israel to respect Palestinian human rights, and is part of a larger legal campaign being waged against BDS in the US.
- Governor Cuomo should rescind this un-democratic order immediately.
Victory for Peace is a Call for Action: The White House Halts the Transfer of Cluster Bombs to Saudi Arabia, PANYS Takes Action to Restrict Additional Arms Sales
In the latest shift in U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia, the White House put a hold on the transfer of cluster munitions to the Kingdom. For decades, the U.S. has approved massive arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, and since March 2015, the U.S. has been providing military support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.
This is an important victory for human rights and for the people of Yemen – but it is too little & we can do so much more right now, because today there is bi-partisan legislation in the House and Senate that would further restrict U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has been widely condemned for failing to differentiate between civilian and military targets, causing widespread war crimes. The coalition is responsible for 2/3rds of the civilian casualties in the civil war, and has been using U.S. weapons in these attacks. Despite these war crimes, the U.S. has approved over $20B in arms sales to Saudi Arabia since their intervention in Yemen began in March 2015.
The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has not only harmed civilians – it is damaging our long-term national security. The New York Times reported that the U.S.-backed intervention has allowed affiliates of ISIS and Al Qaeda to expand their territories in Yemen. And, because U.S. weapons are being used by the Saudi-led coalition, a recent survey found that 82% of Yemenis from the ages of 18-24 consider the U.S. an enemy.
Legislation currently in the House (HJ Res 90) and Senate (SJ Res 32) would seize the momentum of the halt in the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia to further restrict U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia. It would express the sentiment that the U.S. should not transfer air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia until we can certify that Saudi Arabia is not supporting terrorist or terrorist organizations – and that they are differentiating between civilian and military targets, and taking precautions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians.
Peace Action New York State congratulates GVCP on Taking Action that will make an immense difference: starting a monthly column on peace in their local paper, the Livingston County News! This is an opportunity for broad community education and growing the visibility of the peace movement – and they made it happen.
Click Here to View the First Column, which calls on the President to take real action on nuclear non-proliferation.
Here’s an excerpt:
We feel that there are specific steps the President could announce in Hiroshima that will show the world that his words about a world free of nuclear weapons aren’t hollow rhetoric.
One of these options is a reduction in the number of nuclear warheads in reserve. Another would be to move nuclear weapons away from “hair-trigger alert.” (“Hair-trigger alert” allows weapons to be launched within minutes, which increases the chance of a nuclear launch made by mistake.) Another possibility for the President is to cancel the Long Range Stand Off nuclear cruise missile, and other expensive, dangerous nuclear weapons.
Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace believes that President Obama will be insincere if his words call for ridding the world of nuclear weapons, while at the same time his administration continues its plan to spend a trillion dollars over 30 years to upgrade nuclear weapons.
Washington, DC — May 27, 2016 — In response to report that the U.S. has put a hold on transferring cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs, with Peace Action (the nation’s largest grassroots peace organization), made the following statement:
“The U.S. putting a pause on transferring horrible cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia is a step in the right direction. The U.S. should permanently stop transferring or using civilian-killing cluster munitions and sign The Convention on Cluster Munitions. Cluster bombs indiscriminately kill noncombatants and can litter large areas with brightly colored unexploded bomblets that tend to injure or kill children. Human rights groups have observed the use of cluster bombs by Saudi Arabia in Yemen with devastating results to civilians especially children.”
Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to the conflicts with Afghanistan and Iran. The public may learn more and take action at http://www.Peace- Action.org. For more up-to-date peace insider information, follow Peace Action’s political director on Twitter. http://twitter.com/PaulKawika
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,
whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!
Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by
irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking
with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be
taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach
them of charity, mercy and patience.
We women of one country will be too tender of those of another
country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From
the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance
Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons
of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a
great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women,
to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the
means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each
bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
but of God.
In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a
general congress of women without limit of nationality may be
appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at
the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the
alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement
of international questions, the great and general interests of
Julia Ward Howe
Two US Senators introduced legislation that would halt future sales of aerial munitions to Saudi Arabia until President Obama verifies that the Saudi government is respecting international humanitarian law in waging war in Yemen, that it doesn’t support listed terrorist groups, and that it is pursuing all measures to eradicate al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) said that in light of the civilian toll of the US-backed Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, the White House must ensure that American weapons are not being used in attacks on innocents.
The House Version of the Bill (H.J. Res 90) was introduced April 20th by Ted Lieu (D-CA33) and is being co-sponsored by Ted Yoho (R-FL3) and John Conyers (D-MI13)
If the legislation became law, it would represent a meaningful step in cutting off some of the arms supply to the Saudis, and it would reduce the extent of U.S. involvement in the ongoing war. Since the Saudi-led coalition has been committing war crimes in Yemen for the last year and has been largely ignoring the rise of AQAP’s mini-state, the administration would not be able to verify that the Saudis are meeting most of the conditions listed in the bill.
While it would be ideal to put a halt to future arms sales to the Saudis and their allies all together, this bill has a better chance of winning broader support.