Shouts of “Apartheid, no!” and “Free, free Palestine!” rang out at the gates of Syracuse’s Great New York State Fair, as crowds of workers and students from across the northeast U.S. and eastern Canada streamed through the main gate on Aug. 25. It was “Governor’s Day,” with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo present for opening day festivities.
Demonstrators from eleven Palestinian support groups converged at the fair to denounce Cuomo’s June 5 executive order against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which targets apartheid Israel. Cuomo used his state power to order the creation of an “enemies list” of Palestinian supporters. Those on the list are denied partnerships and grants with state agencies unless they “renounce” their support for Palestinian human rights and BDS.
Protesters interrupted Cuomo’s opening day speech, denouncing his anti-BDS order as an attempt to “bring McCarthyism back to New York state.” Politically organized boycotts are constitutionally protected in the U.S. A flier handed out to fairgoers pointed out that Cuomo is rewarding Israel for violations of international law and the massacres of Palestinians.
The protest was a statewide effort with representation from Adalah-NY, CODEPINK, NYC Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine, the Columbia University Apartheid Divest Coalition, the Ithaca Committee for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace-Ithaca, Jewish Voice for Peace-New York City, Justice for Palestine-Syracuse Peace Council, New York Freedom to Boycott, the Palestine Solidarity Collective and Vegans Against the Occupation