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Hogan's executive order on Israel is an assault on freedom of speech

Baltimore, Md--9/15/17--Gov. Larry Hogan takes questions at a media conference in the lobby of the William Donald Schaefer Building.
Baltimore, Md--9/15/17--Gov. Larry Hogan takes questions at a media conference in the lobby of the William Donald Schaefer Building. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Gov. Larry Hogan seems to me to be very desperate (“Hogan executive order denies contracts to firms that boycott Israel," Oct. 23). I suspect he is recognizing that re-election during the Trump era will be very difficult. Democrats in this state will be anxious to vote against a Republican Party that accepts the madness of the Donald.

Mr. Hogan issued an executive order “that requires all firms with state contracts to promise they will not boycott Israel.” The Maryland legislature has flirted with introducing such legislation, but it has been beaten down the last several years. Such legislation or executive order is a combination of McCarthyism and an assault on freedom of speech.

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The obvious goal is to scare people from participating in boycotts as a means of protesting Israeli oppression. The executive order is an anti-democratic attempt to silence those of us engaged in a nonviolent tactic, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, designed to bring about equality and peace with justice in Israel-Palestine.

It was most shocking to read this quotation by the governor: “There is no place in our state for boycotts and threats.” As someone who worked on the South African divestment movement, I must remind the governor that the state of Maryland passed a law about investments in South Africa. I have been to the occupied territories, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the oppression by the Israeli government was little different from what I saw in apartheid South Africa.

The oppression of the Palestinians is criminal, unjust and immoral. And I and others, despite Mr. Hogan’s ploy to garner support for his re-election, will continue to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Max Obuszewski, Baltimore

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