Maryland Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith on Monday confirmed in a letter to the leadership of the Jewish communities of Baltimore and Greater Washington that Maryland “will review State contracts to determine whether Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company, Unilever, have existing contracts with the State of Maryland and the State will respond accordingly.”
Last month, the ice cream giant declared that it would not longer do business in Judea and Samaria.
The letter sent on behalf of Governor Larry Hogan’s administration pledges to uphold Maryland Executive Order 01.01.2017.25, which “prohibits all Executive Branch agencies controlled by the Governor from entering into a procurement contract with a business entity unless it certifies that it will, for the duration of its contractual obligations, refrain from a boycott of Israel.”
“This is an important step in upholding Maryland’s commitment to inclusion and tolerance,” said Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Washington Ronald Halber. “We appreciate Governor Hogan’s commitment to cooperating with Israel and to his refusal to allow bullies to dictate our business practices.”
The State’s letter reiterates Maryland’s opposition to “boycotts of people or entities because of their Israeli national origin, or residence or incorporation in Israel and its territories,” and says that, “The State of Maryland values our decades-long relationship with Israel and … [looks] forward to continued robust work between Maryland and Israel.”
The letter was a response to an inquiry by Executive Director of the Baltimore Jewish Council Howard Libit and Executive Director of the JCRC of Greater Washington Ronald Halber urging the state to initiate a review of whether Ben and Jerry’s decision to no longer do business in Israel’s territories violates Maryland’s commitment to stand “against companies that seek to delegitimize the democratic State of Israel and negate the right of Israel to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people through discriminatory business practices.”