WASHINGTON – The state of Maryland has adopted a rule barring companies that engage in boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel from receiving government contracts, joining 22 other American states with similar laws.

Maryland’s governor, Larry Hogan, issued an executive order implementing the new provision. “Boycotts based on religion, national origin, place of residence or ethnicity are discriminatory,” Hogan said, announcing the move alongside Jewish leaders. “Contracting with businesses that practice discrimination would make the state a passive participant in private-sector commercial discrimination.”

 

The US’s largest states have already taken similar action – either through state legislative work or gubernatorial executive order – including Florida, California, New York, Illinois and Texas.

And legislation has been proposed on Congress that would codify these conditions for US business on a federal level. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, introduced by Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio this past summer, has earned bipartisan cosponsors, but drawn criticism from civil liberties groups fearing the move would infringe on constitutionally protected freedom of speech.