Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order Monday that prohibits the state from contracting with any business that refuses a pledge not to boycott Israel.
Hogan's order will require that requests for state bids include language that mandates the company placing a bid has not participated in any boycott actions against Israel. The legislation is the latest in state-led efforts to marginalize the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement, which seeks to end Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories through economic protest
Upon signing the order, Hogan sharply criticized the BDS movement as being anti-Israel.
"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," Hogan said, adding: "As long as I am governor of Maryland, there is no place in our state for boycotts and threats which seek to undermine sincere dialogue, compromise, and cooperation."
In a statement, U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights Executive Director Yousef Munayyer blasted Hogan's order as unconstitutional and "immoral."
"Today, despite these clear warnings about the Orwellian and unconstitutional nature of such laws, Maryland governor Larry Hogan decided to take matters into his own hands and pass by fiat an anti-BDS executive order that failed to get through the Maryland State Legislature," Munayyer said. "Political boycotts are constitutionally permitted -- and First Amendment protected -- forms of expression."
Maryland State Sen. Bobby Zirkin told the Baltimore Sun that BDS activists' wish to punish Israel through economic protest in turn affects Maryland's economic interests.
"Everyone has a right to an opinion, including the state of Maryland," he said.
At least 22 states have enacted statewide anti-BDS laws, including the three largest states, New York, California, Florida and Texas.
Earlier this month, the local government of Dickinson, Texas, which was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, told residents they could be eligible for a rebuilding grant only if they promise not to boycott Israel. The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the grant restrictions as unconstitutional.
Critics of anti-BDS laws say such laws violate one's right to free expression and the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the state of Kansas for its anti-BDS laws, which prohibited a math teacher from contracting with the state because of her wish to boycott Israel.