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Maryland has no business chilling free speech to support foreign governments’ human rights violations

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What do certain auto part suppliers, contractors and barbers in Maryland all have in common?

In order to bid for procurement contracts with the State to provide services or goods, they must effectively first pledge loyalty to Israel.

If this doesn’t concern you, it should.

Governor Hogan’s executive order requires businesses with state contracts to promise they will not boycott the state of Israel.

It targets the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – a global campaign that promotes peaceful, economic boycott to protest Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians.

And it is unethical, unconstitutional and downright dangerous – especially because it prioritizes the interests of a foreign government that is in violation of international law above Marylanders’ own First Amendment rights.

After it was signed, two proponents of Governor Hogan’s anti-BDS executive order, Delegates Sandy Rosenberg and Shelley Hettleman, hailed it as an emphatic affirmation of Maryland’s “commitment to support the only real democracy in the Middle East” – meaning Israel.

What they and others don’t realize or choose to acknowledge is that in 2018, the Israeli parliament voted to pass a controversial “nation-state” bill that debunks the notion that Israel is a democratic state.

This bill reserves the right to exercise national self-determination in Israel exclusively to the Jewish people; establishes Hebrew as Israel’s official language, regaling Arabic to a “special status”; designates “Jewish settlement” as a national value; and mandates Jewish settlement to be actively encouraged and promoted by the state.

Religious pluralism is a hallmark characteristic of any democracy. Imagine a U.S. law mandating only one faith community as being entitled to the right to self-determination in the United States. Every American who values freedom of religion would categorically reject it.

Palestinians make up the vast majority of Arabs who comprise approximately one-fifth of Israel’s population. The “nation-state law” is described by many as a “slap in the face.”

In fact, upon learning that it had passed, Arab parliamentary members ripped up copies of the bill and shouted “APARTHEID” on the floor of the Knesset.

Who can blame them? This legislation codifies racism into law and exposes a nefarious, sinister agenda.

Its passage has sparked a fierce, heated debate over the very nature of Israel itself.

Having personally recently returned from the Holy Land where daily injustices and aggressions inflicted on both Muslim and Christian Palestinians across the region are the norm, Governor Hogan’s anti-BDS Executive Order is exceptionally difficult to digest.

For decades, Palestinians have been forced to endure dehumanization, abuse, blanket criminalization and systemic oppression with little intercession by global powers.

Their ability to secure freedom and liberation through such non-violent means of protest must be protected. Contrary to zionist allegations, advocating for basic human rights for Palestinians isn’t anti-Semitic; it is pro-humanity.

The continued expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine remains among the biggest obstacles to lasting peace in the region.

Irrespective of personal views on the occupation, nothing justifies requiring U.S. businesses contracting with the state to first profess loyalty to a foreign government .

The State of Maryland should never side with any nation that imposes supremacy and enforces a permanent “second-class citizen” status on its minority groups.

It compromises first amendment freedoms, sanctions unjust policies, chills free speech, and sets a dangerous precedent that jeopardizes Marylanders’ interests.

History has shown that economic boycott helps create positive change. It is a time-honored tactic that was instrumental in ridding South Africa of apartheid, and in advancing the civil rights movement in the United States.

It’s worth noting that Governor Hogan signed this EO after a similar bill that would also have forbidden the state from investing pension funds in any companies that boycott Israel, failed to pass in state legislature in 2017.

It must be reversed because it is contrary to the values of democracy, equality and pluralism, and simply has no place in our state.

Every constituent in Maryland should be concerned that any lawmaker or elected official would prioritize racist, xenophobic policies over Americans’ constitutionally protected right to peacefully express discord of any government’s unethical actions.

Special interest groups and their representatives don’t have to like it, but Israel is no exception.

About Zainab Chaudry

Zainab Chaudry is Director of Maryland Outreach at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. She may be reached at [email protected]

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10 Responses

  1. amigo
    amigo on January 3, 2019, 1:20 pm

    Larry Hogan should check what the people in the land of his forefathers are doing about Boycotting Israel.

    “Ireland advances bill banning goods from illegal settlements on occupied land”.

    international/europe/189837-181129-irish-senate-advances-bill-banning-goods-from-israeli-settlements

    This bill moves to the upper house (Dail) in a few weeks and is expected to pass with little opposition.

    Good for Ireland , setting the example for others to follow.

  2. JWalters
    JWalters on January 3, 2019, 5:48 pm

    Here’s an excellent article on a similar case in Texas.
    “Fired School Employee Sues Over Israel Loyalty Oath”
    https://consortiumnews.com/2019/01/02/fired-school-employee-sues-over-israel-loyalty-oath/

    Here’s a short video with a very disturbing map showing how many states in the US now have Israel loyalty oaths. Mind blowing. America’s democracy is in deeply corrupt sh*t.
    “Rick Sanchez blasts Israel loyalty oath sweeping U.S.”
    https://www.wrmea.org/#

    What is Nancy Pelosi going to do about this?

    • amigo
      amigo on January 3, 2019, 6:45 pm

      “What is Nancy Pelosi going to do about this”J Walters

      The most powerful woman in the USA is going to do as she is told and enjoy her last term as speaker of the house.So much for her claims she is there to work for the many and not the few.

      • Misterioso
        Misterioso on January 4, 2019, 9:29 am

        @JWalters

        “What is Nancy Pelosi going to do about this?”

        She has no choice. She must uphold the U.S. constitution, i.e., the First Amendment:

        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

      • JWalters
        JWalters on January 4, 2019, 9:09 pm

        amigo, all too likely, unfortunately.

        Misterioso, if forced upon her she should. But will she have the courage to reverse course and admit her abject complicity in decades of Israeli crimes? Perhaps she’ll try to find some way to save face, e.g. “Rashid, I’m shocked! shocked! to find Israel is ethnically cleansing the Palestinians!”

  3. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson on January 3, 2019, 6:33 pm

    That’s quite a neck Governor Hogan has. Very impressive!

  4. punterweger
    punterweger on January 4, 2019, 10:27 am

    @Misterioso – I love your posts – packed with essential information. But never underestimate the craven submission of American politicians to the Lobby. Here is a my ecent FB post on this subject:

    “Although Senators Feinstein and Sanders recently spoke out against the anti-Israel Boycott Act and Sen. Gillibrand withdrew her sponsorship early on, the 2019 Senate will still have 10 Democratic co-sponsors of this unconstitutional, anti-free-speech legislation Here is the list of shame: Cory Booker, Chris Coons, US Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Joe Manchin III, Senator Maggie Hassan, Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Maria Cantwell, Senator Gary Peters, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Bob Menendez for NJ

    Most of them have long been co-sponsor, but special mention should go to Cory Booker who signed on after the 2018 mid-term elections. If he thinks it will help his presidential ambitions he should consider the fates of Heidi Heitkamp, Claire McCaskill, Joe Donelly, and Bill Nelson all of whom supported this bad bill and lost their Senate seats anyway.”

  5. Dan From Away
    Dan From Away on January 4, 2019, 11:55 am

    Zionists hate boycotts except when they love them:

    68 Zionist posters (from as early as 1917) advocating the boycott of Palestinian farms/farmers/workers so as to weaken the established indigenous agricultural system and strengthen the struggling kibbutzim:

    https://www.palestineposterproject.org/special-collection/buy-hebrew-campaignhebrew-laborconquest-of-labor

    87 posters on the Zionist effort to block/stop/complicate US-USSR relations in favor of Jewish emigration to Israel:

    https://www.palestineposterproject.org/special-collection/student-struggle-forsoviet-jewrygreater-ny-conference-on-soviet-jewry

    There are a host of other Zionist efforts to (mis)use the economy of the US to advance Zionist goals such as “Buy Israel Goods Days” (B.I.G.)

    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/poster/jerusalem-b-i-g-day

    To say nothing about the more recent example of the Israeli government calling for the boycott of AirBnB in the US in response to that company’s new policy of de-listing rentals in the Occupied Territories. Which raises the fascinating question of whether or not the Israeli government would have been in violation of Senator Ben Cardin’s (D-Md) wildly unconstitutional “Israel Anti-BDS Act” if it had passed?

    These Maryland legislators are doing pro-forma “constituent service” – puppeteering in support of this act to appease a special interest group. They likely know that even the ADL – the initiators of the “Israel Anti-BDS Act”

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/revealed-secret-adl-memo-slammed-anti-bds-laws-as-harmful-to-jews-1.6745516

    believe it to be a vast error, an unconscionable waste of taxpayer dollars and very likely to be declared unconstitutional by SCOTUS (though I admit I would love to read the legal justification/gymnastics SCOTUS would have to produce to justify upholding…shades of Dred Scott/Taney?…also of Maryland infamy)

    There is no downside for Hogan in this charade: If the “Israel Anti-BDS Act” is overturned by SCOTUS he still gets to say to Cardin, et. al., “Hey, I tried … I did everything you told me to do … blame SCOTUS not Hogan … I performed as ordered.”

    Same goes for Cuomo, et. al. Organized domestic Zionism can get 82 Congressional signatures on a napkin in 24 hours so it makes sense that since Zionism has no interest in or connections to the American street but rather only to its elite political institutions that it would mobilize those resources in times of free-fall.

    Hogan is walking a well-trod American path: Think Calhoun. Think McCarthy. Think HUAC. Think Trump.

  6. Citizen
    Citizen on January 4, 2019, 3:55 pm

    Frustrated. If I alert my relatives to this glaring trend nationwide to effectively make Americans swear allegiance to Israel to keep their income, rather than opt to criticize it in the interest of America’s highest values and curbing waste of their tax dollars, , they will be annoyed I even informed them. They all have better things to occupy their minds, it seems.

  7. ritzl
    ritzl on January 5, 2019, 3:27 pm

    This Maryland (and most of the others) order is exactly the same commercial “restraint of trade” that was found illegal in the Arab boycott of Israel. EXACTLY.

    As the Arabs states did in the 1970’s, Maryland is requiring, as a condition of doing business with the state, certain contractual requirements and/or prohibitions. The Maryland-type anti-BDS requirements are illegal/unconstitutional on those grounds. That seems to have been unambiguously settled law for decades.

    https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/rights-protesters/new-israel-anti-boycott-act-still-unconstitutional

    And then there are the clearly unconstitutional restrictions on free speech for personal/non-commercial BDS organizing and participation, which have not been adjudicated as precedent yet (afaik). These are not regulate-able commercial issues (maybe with a little overlap). They are First Amendment issues.

    It still kills me that a sh’tty little country half a world away (without a printed constitution or any fixed/benchmark legal rights) can dictate to even completely corrupt politicians, let alone people in Dickinson, TX as a condition for receiving hurricane disaster relief to which they are entitled, how to shred our Constitution.

    It’s so far over the line that it forgot what a line looks like. I suspect the blowback will be immense and uncontrollable.

    Is Israel in so much trouble that it has to resort to this and risk that blowback? Methinks it must be.

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