Maryland bars state contracts for companies that boycott Israel


(JTA) — The governor of Maryland signed an executive order that prohibits state agencies from entering into contracts with companies that boycott Israel.

Gov. Larry Hogan signed the order in a ceremony Monday with state Jewish leaders on hand.

The order appears to be largely symbolic, since there are not any current state contractors who boycott Israel, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Hogan, who is up for re-election in 2018, also called on the state pension system to divest itself of companies that have participated in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

“Israel is a robust democracy with many rights and freedoms that don’t exist in neighboring countries, or across much of the world,” he said in a statement. “The shameful BDS movement seeks to undercut those rights and freedoms, using economic discrimination and fear, by boycotting Israeli companies and prohibiting them from doing business in the United States.

“The goals of this movement run counter to the strong economic relationship that Maryland has sustained with our friends and partners in Israel.”

Two Jewish Democratic lawmakers, State Sen. Bobby Zirkin and State Del. Benjamin Kramer, earlier this year introduced anti-BDS legislation that failed to pass. They said Monday that they are considering proposing a bill next year to bar the state from investing pension money in companies participating in the BDS movement.

Some 23 states have enacted legislation or have executive orders against boycotting Israel.

Last year, the Hogan administration sent a letter to the state chapter of the American Jewish Committee reaffirming its support for Israel against proponents of the BDS movement, and Hogan joined governors from all 50 states in signing the American Jewish Committee’s Governor’s Pledge against BDS.

Maryland is home to over 30 Israeli businesses, and the export relationship between Maryland and Israel reached a record high in 2015, with more than $145 million in product exports.

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