The US state of Maryland will be denying contracts to firms that boycott the Israeli regime, Governor Larry Hogan says.
The governor of the Free State signed an executive order on Monday to block it from doing business with companies boycotting Israel over its expansionist policies in the Middle East.
Speaking with pro-Israel Jewish leaders by his side at a news conference in Annapolis, Hogan announced the measure against the movement known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
“Boycotts based on religion, national origin, ethnicity or place of residence are discriminatory, and contracting with businesses that practice discrimination would make the state a passive participant in private sector commercial discrimination,” argued the Republican governor. “There is no place in our state for boycotts and threats.”
Pro-Israelis are ‘thrilled’
For pro-Israelis in Maryland, the move is reminiscent of the state’s “Declaration of Cooperation” signed in 1988 to boost mutual economic cooperation between Israel and Maryland.
“It is extremely important to the Jewish community to see a governor willing to stand up for Israel,” said Howard Libit, the executive director of the pro-Israel Baltimore Jewish Council. “This is as strong a statement as a governor can make, and we are thrilled.”
Rights activists, meanwhile, argue that boycotts are a protected freedom of expression under the First Amendment.
On October 11, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a federal lawsuit contending that a similar law in Kansas is unconstitutional.
“They’re asking people to discriminate against Israel,” Hogan said of the BDS movement, dismissing concerns about violation of the First Amendment “There’s no argument to the contrary that makes any sense.”
Some American Jewish groups have voiced concern that anti-BDS laws to support Israel in the US are actually ending up to do more harm than good to the regime.