Mineola, New York – In 2016, the Nassau County Legislature voted unanimously for legislation that prohibited the County from doing business with any company or person involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel. The legislation, which was sponsored by Deputy Presiding Officer Howard Kopel, came as anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish people around the Country increased.
With the recent announcement from Merrick natives Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the founders of ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s, that they will no longer sell their ice cream in parts of Israel, questions have arose on whether the County is enforcing this law with all vendors. Previously, there were issues in 2017 with a performance by Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Waters is outspokenly pro-BDS and anti-Israel, and protests erupted over whether the County’s Anti-BDS law would prohibit him from playing. In the end, the County decided that they didn’t have the authority to enforce the law with vendors.
On July 23rd, Deputy Presiding Officer Howard Kopel joined with his colleagues in the Majority Caucus of the Legislature as well as former State Senator Elaine Phillips, to demand the County Executive hold an audit of all county contracts and county vendors to ensure that the Anti-BDS law is enforced.
"Ben and Jerry’s’ decision to stop the sale of their ice cream in parts of Israel is disappointing and unacceptable,” Deputy Presiding Officer Howard Kopel said. “In 2016, the Republican Majority spearheaded legislation prohibiting the County from doing business with any company or person involved in the BDS movement. We firmly stand by that legislation today. Israel is the world’s only Jewish-State and is constantly being attacked by its neighbors and bad faith Anti-Semitic world actors. The move made by Ben and Jerry’s, along with its parent company Unilever, is meant to further divide people. We will continue to stand with Israel and Jewish residents across the county and ensure the county does not do business with these companies. I look forward to working across the aisle to see that the audit is completed."
“The anti-BDS legislation that we passed in 2016 was passed and signed into law to send a message that Nassau County supports Israel and our Jewish residents,” Legislator Steve Rhoads said. “This audit will provide peace of mind to residents, and make sure that their tax dollars will not go towards any company operating that supports the BDS movement that seeks to vilify Israel and the Jewish people.”
“As a former State Senator, I helped pass anti-BDS State legislation through the State Senate,” Former State Senator Elaine Phillips said. “I want to thank the Legislature for taking on this fight in Nassau County and supporting our Jewish residents. Hate should not and cannot be tolerated anywhere in Nassau County. I stand with Israel, and Nassau County’s Jewish population and will always fight against BDS, and anti-Semitism wherever it exists.”