WASHINGTON - New York State Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that directly addressed the controversy surrounding the American Studies Association's boycott of Israeli universities.
The bill, to become law if signed by the governor, would prohibit the state's massive higher education system from funding organizations that "have undertaken an official action boycotting certain countries or their higher education institutions" according to the language of the legislation.
The bill was sponsored by Democratic Senator Jeff Klein, and it passed with a wide margin of 56-4.
The senator's office released a statement: "This legislation sends a very simple message, which is that we should never ask taxpayers to support religious, ethnic, or racial discrimination."
The statement stressed the New York legislator's relationship with the Jewish State: "I will not allow the enemies of Israel or the Jewish people to gain an inch in New York."
The new legislation would prevent New York higher-ed institutions from paying membership fees to academic groups that boycott Israel and will no longer reimburse students or scholars for their travel expenses to conventions of groups that have voted to boycott the Jewish State.
Violators of the new bill would be cut off from state aid for the academic years in which the violation occurred.
The president-elect of the ASA, Lisa Duggan, told Al Jazeera that the New York Senate legislation is intended to cover Israel's "ongoing
violations of international law and human rights."
In an emailed statement to Al Jazeera, Duggan said: "This law's supporters claim to oppose discriminatory boycotts, but they have designed their legislation to let Israel off the hook for restricting the academic and other freedoms of Palestinians, while punishing those who protest those injustices."