Since coming to office in January of 2015, Gov. Larry Hogan has proven to be a strong supporter and friend of the State of Israel. Besides participating in a landmark trade mission to the Jewish state in 2016, Hogan, a Republican who is seeking reelection, signed an executive order in October of 2017 blocking procurement contracts for companies in Maryland engaged in a boycott of Israel.
Meanwhile, the views on Israel and the Middle East espoused by Ben Jealous, Hogan’s Democratic rival in the gubernatorial race, are less well-known. Jealous is a former president and CEO of the NAACP.
Jmore recently spoke separately with both gubernatorial candidates about their views regarding Israel.
Jmore: What are a few of the most important ways in which you have supported Israel?
Hogan: In 2017, I signed an anti-BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] executive order that prohibited executive branch agencies from entering into contracts with any entity participating in the abhorrent BDS movement. Since taking office, I’ve invested over $1 million toward the Maryland-Israel Development Center (MIDC), which helps build ties between Maryland and Israeli companies.
In 2016, I led a successful trade mission to Israel, which has led to Israeli companies opening offices in and bringing jobs to our great state.
Jealous: I always have, and always will, stand up for Israel’s right to defend itself as a secure Jewish state. As an investor in small businesses, I have supported Israeli entrepreneurs by investing capital in their ridesharing application, Via, built off the model of Sherut shared taxis in Israel. Through the process of working with their Tel Aviv office, I’ve gained an even deeper appreciation for the importance of Israel as a democracy in the Middle East and their role leading the world in technology innovation.
I’m also proud that my running mate, Susie Turnbull, is a Jewish communal leader who has traveled to Israel in many roles during her years with the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Jewish Women International.
How would your reelection affect the Maryland-Israel relationship?
Hogan: If I am reelected, I pledge to broaden and deepen the economic partnerships between Israel and Maryland. Maryland and Israel are both worldwide leaders in cybersecurity, bio-technology and life sciences, and I would build on the growing partnerships in these vital fields.
How would your election affect the Maryland-Israel relationship?
Jealous: Maryland already has a strong relationship with Israel. As a venture capitalist, I want to build on that strong foundation by positioning Maryland to invest in the Israeli technology sector and vice versa. I believe Maryland and Israel can simultaneously create jobs in our respective communities by forging an even stronger bio-technology and cybersecurity partnership through the Maryland Israel Development Center. Much of this work is already in place, so my goal is to make it an even higher priority in our state’s economic development strategy.
What would you do to strengthen the relationship?
Hogan: As long as I am governor of Maryland, Israeli companies will always have a place to do business, and the Israeli people will find an open door to our state. In my second term, I hope to go back to Israel and expand upon my successful 2016 trade mission.
Jealous: Like other governors, I would lead an economic mission to strengthen MIDC. I want to learn from Israel’s best practices and apply them in Maryland. Israel is one of many nations that has found a way to ensure health coverage for all of its people. As Maryland studies the best way to implement “Medicare-for-All,” we will learn from Israel and forge partnerships with its hospitals like Hadassah Medical Center.
Israel can also serve as a model on another one of my top policy priorities: debt-free college. Israeli universities are some of the best in the world and still offer much more affordable tuition and fee rates than Maryland public universities.
What is your position regarding the BDS movement? Will you commit to keeping Maryland’s anti-BDS executive order in place?
Hogan: There is no place in Maryland for the BDS movement. The goals of this movement run counter to not just the strong economic relationship Maryland has with our friends in Israel, but with our core beliefs. In 2017, I was the first Maryland governor to sign an anti-BDS executive order. I pledge that the anti-BDS executive order will remain in place during my second term.
Jealous: I have found that success is never built by trying to punish one side of a conflict. That is why I believe the BDS movement is counterproductive and simply another hindrance to peace. I would not rescind Maryland’s anti-BDS executive order, so long as the executive order withstands any court challenges.
To what extent do you support or oppose Linda Sarsour’s anti-Israel views? [Sarsour is a New York-based progressive political activist and champion of the BDS movement.]
Hogan: I am in complete opposition to Linda Sarsour’s anti-Israel beliefs. I condemn Ms. Sarsour’s view that Israel has no right to self-determination, as well as her willingness to share the stage with convicted terrorists.
Jealous: In our careers in activism, Linda Sarsour and I have occasionally crossed paths. But Linda and I have different views on the best way to achieve peace for the Israeli and Palestinian people. I oppose BDS and believe the greatest chance of securing peace is a two-state solution that protects Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish democracy.
Does Susie Turnbull agree with you on this matter?
Jealous: When I recruited Susie to be my running mate, she specifically asked about my stance on BDS and how I would support Israel. She would not have signed on to run by my side if I held views on Israel that conflicted with hers. Her experience as a Jewish communal leader strengthens our partnership.
Governor, does Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford completely agree with you about Israel?
Hogan: Yes, the lieutenant governor has repeatedly joined with me to advocate for closer ties between Maryland and Israel.
If you could talk with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu today, what would you say?
Hogan: I would talk with Prime Minister Netanyahu about the many ways Maryland and Israel can grow and expand our thriving bond.
Jealous: I would ask him, how can we learn from Israel’s universal health care system? How are Israel’s universities so much more affordable for their students and families than ours? I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu can be a resource to Susie and me as we achieve our education, health care and economic goals to improve the lives of all Marylanders.
Peter Arnold is an Olney, Md.-based freelance writer.