NY congressional candidate Yuh-Line Niou says she supports BDS
A US congressional candidate in New York City has said that she supports BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), a rare move for a politician running for public office.
Yuh-Line Niou, a Taiwanese-American currently serving as a New York assemblymember and first-time congressional candidate, made this statement in response to interview questions for an article by Jewish Insider.
It is unclear, however, based on her responses, if Niou backs the movement itself – supported by only a handful of congress members – or the right to boycott, which is supported by the majority of the Democratic Party.
"I believe in the right to protest as a fundamental tenet of western democracy, so I do support BDS," Niou wrote in an email to Jewish Insider. After being pressed on the question multiple times, according to the article, she repeatedly framed her support for BDS in terms of freedom of speech and the right to protest.
She did say she didn't think BDS was anti-Semitic, a common criticism from those who oppose the movement.
Though it appears to be unclear if this candidate supports the goals of BDS, doing so would be in line with her platform of progressive policies, such as the Green New Deal (or the "Green Niou Deal", as it's called on her campaign website), criminal justice reform, and universal healthcare.
Moreover, her endorsements by solidly progressive organisations, such as the New York Working Families Party, the Sunrise Movement NYC and the Muslim Democratic Club of New York would likely indicate that her policies are progressive across the board.
District 10, where she is running, along with former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and sitting congressman Mondaire Jones, both progressives is in a deep blue section of the city that includes Chinatown and the Lower East Side. The primary election is in August.
As for not taking a public stance on whether or not she supports the goals of BDS, it could very well be a tactical move in a competitive election where making such a statement could easily distract from the rest of the campaign.
BDS, though not a major issue in US politics, has come to the forefront of debates on freedom of speech, due to its criticisms of Israeli policies, often seen as a red line for politicians.
To date, 35 US states have passed anti-BDS laws, meaning any company boycotting Israel can't do business with those states.
Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union announced plans to head to the Supreme Court after a state appeals court ruled this that boycotts, historically safeguarded under the First Amendment to the constitution's guarantee of freedom of expression, will no longer be constitutionally protected.