This afternoon, during a debate about Net Neutrality on the floor of the Maryland House of Delegates, Delegate Mark Fisher (R-Calvert County) started speaking about the BDS movement.
Unfortunately Fisher's comments about BDS contained obvious misstatements and typical smears that we have come to expect from opponents of BDS. He also smeared Linda Sarsour who is a leading advocate in America for Palestinian human rights.
Shortly after Delegate Fisher spoke, another Delegate, Jimmy Tarlau (D-Prince George's) stood up to rebut his smears. You can listen to the entire episode here:
Below is the transcript:
Delegate Mark Fisher: "Thank you Mr. Speaker. Last year in October, the Governor signed an executive order concerning the BDM movement, otherwise known as the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. And it's a movement that seeks to encourage governments, states, countries, small business, big businesses to not buy anything from anyone who is Jewish -- Therefore trying to undermine the state of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East."
"Two weeks later, after the Governor signed that executive order, St. Mary's College of Maryland invited Linda Sarsour -- one of the BDS movement's biggest supporters and a well known and documented anti-semite to speak at St. Mary's College of Maryland and they gave her their highest award. How wonderful. But then they did something else: They paid her thirty-five hundred dollars of tax payer dollars."
"And so I wrote St. Mary's College of Maryland's President, President Jordan, and asked her if she was aware of the Governor's executive order which basically said, you can't pay, use tax payer dollars to pay someone who supports the BDS movement. It's a good executive order. And of course I got a response, and the response was from their lawyer (because obviously they were really concerned that they had done something wrong -- which they did, at the very least they violated "the spirit" of the executive order)."
"And then I went on to of course mention in the letter, Ms. Sarsour's various escapades throughout the United States, with respect to her endless anti-semitic rhetoric. And of course President Jordan was silent on that, as she should have been because Ms. Sarsour has every right to speak at St. Mary's College of Maryland because I believe in free speech. I just don't want tax payer dollars used for someone who seeks to defund the State of Israel in violation of the Governor's executive order. It make perfect sense."
"So why should this matter on this bill, Mr. Speaker? It matters because the local media picked up the story and printed my letter, on my stationary from the House of Delegates. And the same online media put it on Facebook. And Facebook took it down. Not on my Facebook page. They took it down on an actual online media page of a media company in Calvert County. And they said to the owner of the media outlet, "this was objectionable material. And it did not meet Facebook standards."
"And so why does this matter with this particular bill? Well, because the sponsor of the bill, for whatever reason, includes ISPs but we don't include Facebook or Google, the two companies that are documented with censorship. The bill only speaks to ISPs: the Verizons, the Comcasts, and the other internet providers. But not Google and Facebook. And we see them all over the media with what they are doing. Mark Zuckerberg and the folks at Alphabet and Google, and others, engaging in censorship all the time. Sometimes against Republicans, and sometimes in all fairness against Democrats. It's a bad practice, and we should include them in this bill. But we haven't, instead what have we done? We have chosen winners, and we have chosen losers. The winners are those who engage in censorship. And the losers, are the folks who have built the backbone of the internet, who aren't engaging in any censorship that has been documented. But they have been throttling granted and that's wrong, in some cases. But in other cases it might be justified if their networks are clogged and they're trying to make sure all the information is getting through fairly, but the bill is silent about Google and Facebook."
"And I've had this exact issue happen to me on a matter that has to do with one of the greatest issues of our time, which is the idea that the State of Israel doesn't have the right to exist, and Facebook took it down. Shameful, Shameful. We should be including Google and Facebook in this bill because if we really wanted to protect consumers, we wouldn't be choosing winners and losers, we would be against censorship once and for all, for everybody, no matter who they are, no matter how big they are. For all those reasons, I'm voting red on that bill."
<Other speakers omitted because they didn't discuss BDS>
Speaker Michael Busch: "The gentleman from Prince George's County"
Delegate Jimmy Tarlau: "Mr. Speaker, I support this bill. I'm not going to talk about it. I just want to correct one misstatement that my good friend from Calvert County said about the BDS movement. It is against the policies of Israel. But it is not anti-Jewish. And I speak as a proud grandson of a Rabbi that it is not anti-Jewish. It is just against the policies of Israel. Thank you"