WASHINGTON - A Jewish American from New York who witnessed Israeli atrocities against Palestinians while living in Tel Aviv has denounced her state’s governor for his “draconian executive order” to punish institutions that refuse to invest in Israel.

In an article posted Saturday on the electronic edition of The Washington Post, Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of the US-based Jewish Voice for Peace, explained that she decided to join the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement after being witness to the Israeli regime’s military offensive against Gaza Strip in 2009, which led to the killing of nearly 1,400 Palestinians.

“I believe that Israel won’t change its policies until outside pressure becomes impossible to ignore. BDS is a powerful way to encourage the state to act. And during my time with the movement, we’ve had growing success. Mainstream churches have divested from companies profiting from the occupation. Dozens of American campuses have passed divestment resolutions. More than 100 artists refuse to perform in Israel, and multinational corporations like G4S and Veolia have withdrawn from the Israeli market,” she wrote.

Efforts to divest from Israel “have been threatened here in the United States by a nationally coordinated, well-funded strategy," financed by the regime, she further cautioned.

According to her article, more than 22 US states, including her state of New York have introduced or passed anti-BDS legislation over the past year, making it illegal for states to do business with companies that support BDS.

“New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has escalated that strategy with a draconian executive order that would create a blacklist of companies and organizations that choose not to invest in Israel,” she underlined. Cuomo’s executive order, she added, “circumvented the state legislature, where opposition from supporters of Palestinian rights and free speech, including many members of Jewish Voice for Peace, had successfully stalled the anti-BDS legislation in committee.”

“This is wrong,” she said, arguing that holding the Israeli regime “accountable for its violations of international law and human rights abuses” is not discrimination as claimed by the governor, since “Israel is not the same as the Jewish people.”

“My daughters who I dropped off at preschool in Tel Aviv in 2009 are now middle-schoolers in Brooklyn. If as Israeli citizens they choose someday to live in Israel/Palestine, I hope it will be a place where all people, Jewish and Palestinian, can live in equality and freedom. I believe that BDS is the best tool that we have to make that vision a reality,” she further wrote.

Vilkomerson concluded by reiterating that “Cuomo is standing on the wrong side of history,” adding, “We will look back on the attempts to legislate against BDS as the last desperate attempts to shield Israel from much-needed pressure to change its policies.”