Globe Briefs June 9

Globe Briefs June 9

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs executive order against BDS

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.

The order signed Sunday, hours before the start of New York’s annual Celebrate Israel Parade, will require state agencies to divest themselves of companies and organizations aligned with the BDS movement.

Cuomo said at the signing at the Harvard Club in Manhattan that New York is Israel’s “true friend.”

“And it’s very simple. If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you,” he said. “If you divert revenues from Israel, New York will divert revenues from you. If you sanction Israel, New York will sanction you. Period.”

New York is the first state in which the governor has taken executive action against the BDS movement. Several state legislatures have passed anti-BDS legislation, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and South Carolina. In total, 21 states, including Pennsylvania, have taken up anti-BDS legislation.

Cuomo, a Democrat, criticized elements of his party that have taken stands perceived as being against Israel.

“As a Democrat, I always took for granted that there was a natural relationship with Israel that was unquestionable,” Cuomo said. “You now have aspects of the Democratic Party that are being critical of Israel as being disproportionate in its response.”

Alphonso David, counsel to the governor, told the New York Times before the signing that he expects the number of companies that do business with the state that endorse or are engaged in the BDS movement to be “quite significant.”

Muhammad Ali pleaded for Daniel Pearl’s life

When The Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped by Islamic extremists in January 2002, the most famous American Muslim of the day, Muhammad Ali, pleaded publicly for his release and life.

”I appeal to you to show Daniel Pearl compassion and kindness,” Ali implored Pearl’s abductors, who would behead the journalist in Pakistan after nine days of captivity, although his fate would not be known for another three weeks.

“Treat him as you would wish all Muslims to be treated by others,” entreated Ali, who died last Friday at 74. “Daniel should not become another victim of the ongoing conflict. It is my most sincere prayer that Daniel Pearl be permitted to return safely to his family. May Allah have mercy on us all.”

Pearl’s parents, Judea and Ruth, also asked Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, to intercede with the abductors.

“Farrakhan said, day after day, that he wasn’t ready and when he was finally ready it was too late,” Judea Pearl, who was born in Israel, recalled Saturday.

By contrast, Pearl noted, “Ali did not hesitate a minute and issued a plea that only Satan could resist; it was published next day in Pakistan. Ali further called me by phone and insisted on being invited to the party once Danny was released.”

Instead of the anticipated celebration to mark the journalist’s hoped-for return, Ali and his wife were invited to attend the private memorial service on March 10, 2002, at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

At the service, which this reporter attended as a friend of Pearl’s parents, Ali walked in slowly, showing clear signs of the degenerative Parkinson’s disease that eventually contributed to his death.

But he brightened as Judea Pearl, a UCLA professor, mentioned Ali’s intercession for Daniel and lauded the legendary boxing champion and social activist as “a champion of humanity.”

In memory of their son, Judea and Ruth Pearl have established the Daniel Pearl Foundation to support causes that inspired his life, including promotion of cross-cultural understanding and prevention of hate-based violence.

Swedish nun who saved Jews from Nazis made a saint

A Swedish nun who saved Jewish families from the Nazis during the Holocaust was made a saint.

Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad was canonized on Sunday by Pope Francis during a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. She becomes the first Swedish saint in more than 600 years.

Hesselblad converted to Catholicism after being born a Lutheran. She saved at least 12 Jews during the Holocaust, hiding them in the convent in Rome where she served as mother superior. The Jews remained hidden for about six months, until the end of the war.

She was recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations by Israel’s Yad Vashem in 2004.

Hesselblad died in Rome in 1957 at 87.