Muslim group sues to block 'No Boycott of Israel' measure




  • In World
  • 2019-01-10 12:44:00Z
  • By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Maryland's ban on contracting with businesses that boycott Israel tramples on the First Amendment rights of a software engineer who advocates for Palestinians, a Muslim civil rights group claims in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations' federal lawsuit seeks to block the state from enforcing an executive order that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed in October 2017.

The order requires contractors to certify in writing that they don't boycott Israel. The group's suit claims the order has an unconstitutional chilling effect on First Amendment-protected political advocacy supporting the Palestinians.

CAIR says 25 other states have enacted measures similar to Maryland's, through legislation or executive orders. CAIR attorney Gadeir Abbas said other federal lawsuits have challenged measures in Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas and Texas.

CAIR sued Hogan and state Attorney General Brian Frosh on behalf of software engineer Syed Saqib Ali, a former state legislator. Ali's lawsuit says the order bars him from bidding for government software program contracts because he supports boycotts of businesses and organizations that "contribute to the oppression of Palestinians."

"Speech and advocacy related to the Israel-Palestine conflict is core political speech on a matter of public concern entitled to the highest levels of constitutional protection," the suit says.

Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said the attorney general hadn't seen the suit and doesn't comment on pending litigation. A spokeswoman for Hogan's office said, "We are confident that our executive order is completely consistent with the First Amendment and will be upheld in court."

Ali, a resident of Gaithersburg, served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 2007 to 2011 and represented Montgomery County as a Democrat. He accused Hogan, a Republican, of making an "end around" the Legislature by signing the executive order after lawmakers repeatedly rejected several "anti-BDS" bills targeting the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

"This is unacceptable, and Larry Hogan should know that our rights will not be stricken by him," Ali said at a news conference in Baltimore.

The executive order says a boycott based on religion, national origin or ethnicity is discriminatory. A business boycott of Israel and its territories "is not a commercial decision made for business or economic reasons," it says.

"Contracting with business entities that discriminate make the State a passive participant in private-sector commercial discrimination," the order says.

In December, the Arkansas Times weekly newspaper sued to block a similar measure. That state law, which took effect in August 2017, requires contractors to reduce their fees by 20 percent if they don't sign a pledge not to boycott Israel.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office argued that boycotting Israel is not activity protected by the First Amendment.

"It is neither speech, nor is it conduct that is inherently expressive, nor associational activity that is afforded constitutional protection," wrote attorneys representing Rutledge's office.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Israel moves to name Golan settlement after Trump
Israel moves to name Golan settlement after Trump

Now it is the namesake of a tiny Israeli settlement in the Israel-controlled Golan Heights. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet convened in this hamlet Sunday to inaugurate a new settlement named after President Donald Trump in a gesture of appreciation for the U.S. leader's recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the territory.

Israel PM inaugurates Golan settlement honouring Trump
Israel PM inaugurates Golan settlement honouring Trump

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday inaugurated a new settlement in the Golan Heights, named after the country's "great friend" US President Donald Trump. Netanyahu unveiled a "Trump Heights" sign, featuring an Israeli and a US flag, to mark the site of the new settlement. "Thank you PM @netanyahu and the State of Israel for this great honor!" Trump tweeted.

Intel launches project to help Israeli tech start-ups
Intel launches project to help Israeli tech start-ups

Intel Corp launched a project on Sunday to help start-ups in Israel develop technologies in artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems, and said it planned to bring the scheme to other countries as well. The 20-week program, called Ignite, will offer business and technical support to up to 15 start-ups, the California-based company said, adding it would not take equity stakes in the start-ups now, but might do so eventually. Intel is one of the biggest employers and exporters in Israel, where many of its new technologies are developed, and this year said it was investing 40 billion shekels ($11 billion) to expand its manufacturing operations there.

Israel expects to attend U.S.-led .Palestinian conference
Israel expects to attend U.S.-led .Palestinian conference
  • US
  • 2019-06-16 14:28:28Z

Israel expects to attend a U.S-led conference in Bahrain next week on proposals for boosting the Palestinian economy as part of a coming U.S. peace plan, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Sunday. "Israel will be at the Bahrain conference and all the coordinations will be made," Katz told Israeli Channel 13 News on the sidelines of the Jerusalem Post conference in New York.

Trump aims to slash number of federal advisory committees
Trump aims to slash number of federal advisory committees

President Donald Trump is trying to take an ax to federal advisory committees, ordering that their numbers be slashed. Trump signed an executive order Friday that directs every federal agency to evaluate the need for all of its advisory committees created under the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.