The New York Civil Liberties Union is urging lawmakers in Nassau County to repeal a bill denying county contracts to any companies participating in the Boycott, Divest and Sanction [BDS] movement, which seeks to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"Nassau County cannot be in the business of telling people what to say or think,” Susan Gottehrer, the NYCLU’s Nassau chapter director, wrote in a letter to County Executive Edward Mangano on Monday. "The BDS movement is a form of protected political speech."

The letter comes in response to County Attorney Carnell Foskey's threat to take “appropriate legal action” against the Nassau Events Center (NEC) if it does not cancel upcoming concerts by Roger Waters, a vocal BDS supporter and longtime critic of Israel's settlement expansions. During a Facebook Live chat in July, Waters said that he expected the county's attempts to fail.

"You would have to tear up the Constitution of the United States of America, particularly the First Amendment, and throw it into the Hudson River, or the East River if that’s closer, in order for that to happen," he noted.

Just a week earlier, Nassau County Legislator Howard J. Kopel wrote in a Facebook post that "the Nassau County Attorney confirms that Roger Waters' proposed upcoming tour dates at the Nassau Coliseum are indeed in violation of Local Law 3-2016." That law was passed passed in 2016, one month before Governor Cuomo signed a similar order stipulating that any entity boycotting Israeli businesses would also be boycotted by the State of New York.

According to the NYCLU, the law itself is a violation of the constitution. "The law targets political boycotts, which the Supreme Court has long held as a form of political speech," Zachary Ahmed, policy counsel at NYCLU, told Gothamist. "Here we had an example of the county threatening to enforce this law, and that's what prompted us to respond."

Asked to comment on the letter, the county attorney said that they would not be pursuing legal action against the events center, after all. "After extensive legal review, we had determined that factual issues and a lack of legal precedent had precluded success if the County were to litigate," the county attorney said.

Neither the attorney nor County Executive Edward Mangano responded to questions about whether the decision applies just to Roger Waters, or enforcement of the bill as a whole. The executive also did not respond to a question, initially posed by the NYCLU, about whether the county had previously enforced or threatened to enforce the anti-BDS law.

"As long as law remains on books, there's a possibility that the county could enforce it against other businesses," Ahmed added. "We believe that would be unconstitutional."

Waters will perform at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum this Friday and Saturday nights.