** This statement was released on 9/22/16 – see below for signatories to the letter **
Governor Larry Hogan (MD-R), we believe you should focus on ensuring that Maryland workers earn a living wage and on growing the Maryland economy, not imposing a political litmus test upon local employers. We believe your membership in Governors United Against BDS is misinformed and ask that you consider the facts and remove yourself from this anti-democratic organization. This dangerous initiative seeks to penalize businesses for the alleged political views of their owners in an attempt to reduce pressure on Israel to address well-documented human rights violations against Palestinians, as well as against other non-Jewish groups such as African asylum seekers. immigrants, Druze, and Christian minorities there.
The Governors Against BDS Statement signed by Hogan contains numerous falsehoods:
1. It claims the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions is a movement to “delegitimize” Israel, when in fact the express purpose of this tactic is to “end Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.”
2. It claims “the BDS movement is antithetical to our values.” By endorsing this falsehood, Governor Hogan valued suppression of business owners’ free speech and their right to make their own business decisions over the deeply important American value of non-violent protest to achieve social justice, used successfully in the struggle for civil rights in the U.S. and to end Apartheid in South Africa.
3. It claims Israel “has repeatedly extended its hand in peace to its Palestinian neighbors and states across the Middle East,” when in fact Israel has been the consistent aggressor militarily over the last 30+ years. Israel has refused to respond to repeated peace initiatives from Arab states and from the United Nations. Ongoing settlement construction in the West Bank, and the almost fifty year-old annexation of occupied East Jerusalem both reveal Israel’s territorial ambitions. These ambitions are incompatible with moving toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
4. It claims “the BDS movement would also undermine peacemaking by suggesting economic and political pressure on Israel can replace real negotiation” when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that he has no intention of negotiating fairly with Palestinian leaders.
5. It claims “Israel is a robust democracy with many rights and freedoms that do not exist” elsewhere, when in fact Israel governs in an openly discriminatory manner, with special laws against Israeli Palestinians and completely separate laws for Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs in the occupied West Bank.
Finally, the Statement claims “BDS supporters only focus on Israel” and not the human rights violations of other countries. We the undersigned organizations and individuals devote ourselves to Reverend King’s words that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and seek peace and equity from Baltimore to Bethlehem and beyond. We hold Israel to the same standard to which we hold Governor Hogan, one based on the premise that people should be treated equally regardless of religion, nationality, race, color, gender, sexual orientation, or political beliefs. Israel has violated that standard repeatedly through acts of violence and the grinding daily oppression of Palestinians who live as second class citizens in their own homes. By signing onto the Governors Against BDS statement, Governor Hogan is also violating that standard.
Governor Hogan, we ask that you focus on Marylanders earning a living wage in a growing, just economy, not penalizing and intimidating employers for their political views. We believe the just and rightful response is to remove your name from the Governors United Against BDS website, support Maryland workers, and respect the First Amendment rights of employers. The organizations below are initiating a petition drive, and plan to deliver thousands of signatures to lawmakers in Annapolis.
With Grave Concern,
Baltimore Palestine Solidarity
Jewish Voice for Peace- Baltimore Chapter
Montgomery Peace Action
Central Atlantic Conference- United Church of Christ Marylanders4BDS
National Lawyers Guild- Maryland Chapter
Committee for Palestinian Rights (Columbia, MD)
Veterans For Peace- Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter Jewish Voice for Peace- DC Metro Chapter