New Orleans City Council to reconsider boycott resolution

(JTA) – The New Orleans City Council wants to reconsider a controversial resolution it passed last week that lends support to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

The resolution to boycott investments with human rights violators, which on January 11 passed the council unanimously with all five members present voting in support, mentions neither Israel nor the Palestinian territories, but BDS and anti-Israel activists claimed the passage as a victory for their cause.

Since the vote, City Council President Jason Williams and other council members have told local media they will move to reconsider the resolution at their next council meeting.

Williams on Wednesday called for reconsideration of the resolution, saying that he was not aware of the boycott movement or its mission when he and the council voted, the New Orleans Advocate reported.

Williams also said it was a mistake for the council to introduce and vote on the unadvertised measure at the end of a nearly six-hour meeting, and acknowledged that the city council did not give people enough time to voice their opinions.

The adopted text “encourages the creation of a process to … avoid contracting with or investing in corporations whose practices consistently violate human rights.”

Five of seven city council members, including the mayor-elect, co-sponsored the resolution. The resolution was pushed by the New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee and the language used in the resolution reportedly was crafted by members of the committee. The resolution was written and introduced by Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell as part of her Welcoming Cities initiative, the local television station WWL-TV reported.

“Let me be very clear to citizens of New Orleans and citizens of the world – this City Council is not anti-Israel,” Williams said according to the Advocate. “That sentiment is inconsistent with the council’s actions and certainly mine personally.”

Resolutions do not have the same force of law as an ordinance.

At the start of the Jan. 11 New Orleans City Council meeting, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans was honoured with “a special proclamation for their tremendous philanthropic work and positive impact on the entire New Orleans community.”

The New Orleans Jewish Federation and the Anti-Defamation League both criticized the resolution and the haphazard way that it was introduced.

Cantrell, who takes office in four months, told WWL-TV that she would seek the Jewish community’s advice in revising the resolution and work to establish better relations with the Jewish community.

“What I’m doing now is pretty much just listening to the Jewish community in terms of what would revisions look like,” Cantrell said. “Because, without any mention of the Jewish community, without any mention of the Palestinian community, I’m really looking for guidance from the Jewish community as to what would need to change.”

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