In the October issue of Jmore, Gov. Larry Hogan and his Democratic gubernatorial challenger, Benjamin Jealous, were asked to discuss their views on Maryland’s strong ties with Israel as well as the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In 2017, Hogan signed an anti-BDS executive order prohibiting executive branch agencies from entering into contracts with any entity participating in that movement.
Both candidates were also asked about their views on Linda Sarsour, a New York-based progressive political activist and champion of the BDS movement. Hogan condemned Sarsour’s views; Jealous said he strongly disagreed with the activist on the Middle East peace process and the BDS movement even though “in our careers in activism, Linda Sarsour and I have occasionally crossed paths.”
Since then, the Washington Free Beacon ran an article alleging that Jealous was taking different stances regarding BDS when speaking to Jewish and Muslim groups. In a video published by local Palestinian activist Saqib Ali, Jealous spoke Oct. 7 at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring and appeared to indicate that the courts system will eventually “invalidate” the anti-BDS executive order on constitutional grounds.
“I’m not sure how it actually meets constitutional muster. And the only way to deal with an issue as controversial as that is through legislation,” Jealous reportedly said at that gathering. “There should have been open debate before any executive order was passed. … I suspect that the issue will be taken care of before January of next year. Let’s see what happens with the courts. But the only way to deal with an issue like this is through legislation. I think there’s a reason why it didn’t pass.”
Jmore recently asked Jealous to clarify his views, and his campaign provided the following statement from the candidate:
From day one, I have made my campaign about building a Maryland that lives up to its promise. A Maryland where no one has to choose between medicine and paying the electric bill because prescription drugs have soared beyond affordability. A Maryland where our schools are fully funded in every neighborhood, not just in affluent communities. A Maryland where workers are paid a fair wage for a hard day’s work and women are compensated equally for doing the same work.
My vision of Maryland is built on the values of inclusion, equality and justice, just as my parents and their parents before them envisioned for our state. To live up to these values, we need to have the courage to act on the comprehensive solutions we know will deliver the results on health care, education and the economy that our families deserve. That is why I am running on a bold platform that includes fully funding our schools, Medicare-for-All, a prescription drug affordability board, debt-free college, raising the minimum wage and reducing the sales tax.
I have also campaigned for governor with the intention of building on Maryland’s strong relationship with Israel by following the lead of previous governors before me and traveling to Israel on a trade mission to forge more partnerships in their bio-technology, cyber security, health care and education sectors. Through the Maryland Israel Development Center, I would seek to strengthen our relationship with Israel by not only better aligning our economies but by learning from their ability to provide universal health care to their people and affordable, high-quality higher education.
By learning from Israel’s best practices on education and health care, we can live up to the full promise of our state.
Part of keeping our partnership with Israel strong is doing what we can to support a process to reach peace. In my work bringing people together, 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. For these reasons, I would not rescind Maryland’s anti-BDS executive order, so long as a review from the attorney general and our legal system confirms such an executive order withstands First Amendment concerns and constitutional scrutiny.
Some have questioned my commitment to keeping the executive order in place because I have noted the constitutional concerns brought up by civil rights leaders like the ACLU. I believe we need to allow any legal challenges to be decided in our legal system. But if upheld, I have absolutely no plans to rescind Maryland’s anti-BDS executive order. If constitutional, I would also support legislation that puts this into state law. This has been my consistent position.
My running mate Susie Turnbull — a Jewish community leader who has advocated for Israel at the highest levels of our government — and I believe strongly in Israel’s right to exist and defend itself as a democratic Jewish state. I have supported Israeli entrepreneurs by investing capital in Israeli ride-sharing application, Via, built off the model of Sherut shared taxis in Israel.
A Jealous-Turnbull administration will work hard every day to make sure Maryland lives up to its full promise and we look forward to strengthening our partnership with Israel to help make it happen.