I have much respect for my two colleagues in the Maryland state lLegislature, Sen. Paul Pinsky and Del. Jimmy Tarlau; however, with regard to the assertions that they put forth in their co-authored commentary on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, they are wrong ("Gov. Hogan's executive order stifles free speech," Oct. 26).
The BDS movement is a propaganda tool being utilized by Israel's Arab neighbors to do what they haven't been able to accomplish through multiple wars of aggression and decades of terrorist attacks on Israel's civilian population: destroy Israel.
The goal of BDS is to delegitimize Israel and collapse its economy. In doing so, Israel's Arab neighbors hope to force Israel out of the West Bank, land which the Arabs repeatedly used to launch military strikes against Israel, until Israel captured it from Jordan in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Boycotts against the Jews are nothing new and come straight out of chapter 1 of the anti-Semite's playbook, dating back to the Middle Ages. Modern boycotts of the Jews by Arabs date back to the 1920s.
In their commentary, my colleagues assert that the executive order signed by Gov. Hogan "threatens the First Amendment right of Maryland residents to engage in boycotts." Nonsense.
Every Marylander in the state is free to boycott whomever and whatever they choose. The white supremacists are free to shout their anti-Semitic, racist hate speech and those who choose to participate in the discriminatory, bigoted boycott of Israel are welcome to do so, that is their constitutional right.
However, these discriminatory actions do not have to be supported with taxpayer dollars. The executive order simply provides that for purposes of procuring goods and services, the state of Maryland will not contract with an entity that is engaged in the discriminatory boycott of Israel.
The federal courts have repeatedly held that this a perfectly legitimate right of the states.
Since 1988, Maryland has had a signed Declaration of Cooperation with Israel. That document and the framework for the joint cooperation contained within it, has been the catalyst to a relationship that has benefited the citizens of Maryland and Israel. As a consequence of our mutually beneficial relationship, there have been significant breakthroughs and achievements in scientific and medical research, as well as, hundreds of millions of dollars in trade and job creation in Maryland.
Our state policy of cooperation with Israel is clear, and equally clear has been the findings of the courts on this matter... the states have the right to ensure that public dollars do not undermine public policy, and that includes boycotts.
Unlike Israel, the Arab governments of Gaza and the West Bank are far removed from democracies.
The Arab residents of Israel participate as full citizens in every walk of life. They are part of the highest levels of academia, government, military service and the judicial system. Gays and lesbians serve openly in the military and are simply part of the fabric of the Israeli populace. The press is free and independent and is welcome to be critical of the government.
This contrasts starkly with Gaza and the West Bank and the majority of the Arab world. Minority populations are persecuted, the LGBTQ community is forced to live in the shadows and are frequently subjected to physical abuse and imprisonment. Women are treated as chattel and press is under strict government censorship.
I would proffer to the BDS supporters that their efforts would be best directed toward creating democracies of the Arab lands and promoting tolerance of those who do not meet their strict standards for inclusion.
The world is full of nations governed by dictators and despots who subjugate their people. Yet, the BDS movement is targeted against the sole true democracy in the region and coincidentally happens to be the only nation on the planet with a majority population which is Jewish.
The hypocrisy of the BDS movement is glaring, and yes, anti-Semitism is alive, well, and once again on the rise.
The world seems to be far happier when the Jews play the role of the willing victim. It is readily apparent that there are many who are not accepting of a nation, comprised largely of Jews, that says never again will we be the willing martyrs, marching as sheep to the slaughter, at the hands of Arab neighbors, including Gaza and the West Bank, who have steadfastly committed themselves to the eradication of all Jews in the Middle East.
Governor Hogan's executive order is a thoughtful, well-reasoned first step to say that Maryland will not be complicit in the bigoted fraud that is BDS.
Del. Ben Kramer, Annapolis
The writer, a Democrat, represents Montgomery County in the House of Delegates.