I Will Always Stand For Human Rights & Free Speech
Recently, someone on Facebook challenged me about my years of advocacy for Palestinian human rights and free speech. Instead of responding with a quick retort, I decided that I would flesh out my thoughts about these important matters in a more detailed, thoughtful letter. I wanted to take this opportunity to share the letter with you. It is below. I hope you will read it carefully. You will see that I’m truly a one-of-a-kind candidate who is willing to speak with great moral clarity and conviction. (I have redacted the name and profile photo of the person who posed these questions to protect their privacy)
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Dear <Name Redacted>,
Thank you for the questions you publicly posed to me on your Facebook page on the evening of February 15 (shown below). I would like to apologize for my tardy response. I was dealing with a family emergency and didn’t read these messages until just now.
As you know, BDS is an abbreviation for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions. These are three non-violent tactics designed to fight injustice and elicit social change. Currently I advocate some or all of these tactics against various governments for their human rights violations including:
- Saudi Arabia (for dismembering a journalist)
- North Korea (for gulags)
- Burma (for genocide)
- China (for concentration camps)
- Egypt (for a facist coup)
- UAE (for bombing Yemeni civilians)
- Russia (for interference in US elections)
In addition to these governments, I support BDS against numerous non-state actors including:
- The Trump Organization
- India’s Bharatiya Janata Party
- Fox News
- One America News Network
If any of these entities cease their objectionable conduct, I will stop advocating for BDS against them. That is the purpose of BDS: to change the behavior of the targeted parties.
I am currently suing Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to overturn his executive order that prevents contractors from bidding on state projects unless they swear an oath that they are not boycotting Israel. Recently the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a case brought by the ACLU, found that a similar law in Arkansas violates the US constitution’s guarantee of free speech. Courts in Kansas, Texas and Arizona have also found similar laws unconstitutional.
I will always support the right of Americans to speak freely. This is the most fundamental and sacrosanct American value. Especially during this time when the very foundation of our democracy is under attack, we must defend our Constitution — whether from armed mobs or from unscrupulous politicians. It is extremely regrettable that you have taken a position in opposition to free speech.
However, I must emphasize that defending our Constitution through civil litigation is certainly not BDS since there are no boycotts, divestment or sanctions involved in doing so. Any attempt to describe this as “BDS activity” is simply not truthful.
My opposition to legislation requiring anti-BDS oaths is shared widely by innumerable Americans. In 2017 a national scandal erupted when the city of Dickinson, Texas made hurricane relief funds contingent on signing such an oath. In 2019, the US House of Representatives rejected Senator Marco Rubio’s bill in favor of such oaths. And in 2019 our own junior US Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) gave a lengthy speech from the well of the Senate condemning such legislation — and approvingly citing my case against Governor Hogan (at the 5:30 mark). Even J Street, an avowedly Pro-Israel organization opposes legislation requiring these anti-BDS oaths.
As for your question about boycotting Israel, I already transact business with at least one Israeli company: I have a subscription to the excellent Israeli newspaper Haaretz. And I’m a donor to multiple Israeli charities including B’Tselem and Rabbis for Human Rights.
If I’m elected to the Maryland legislature, I will take my seat in January 2023. I cannot predict with any clarity what the world will look like almost two years from now. Any decisions on whom to boycott and how will only be made on a case-by-case basis after a careful examination of the circumstances on the ground at that time.