TX City Requires That Aid Recipients Do Not Boycott Israel

Houston Texas. Over a week after Hurricane Harvey hit Southern Texas residents are beginning the long process of recovering from the stor

Houston Texas. Over a week after Hurricane Harvey hit Southern Texas residents are beginning the long process of recovering from the stor

Although the hurricane devastated the entire Houston metro area with record rainfall and destructive flooding, a local television news station reported in early September that "damage in Dickinson may be the worst of Harvey", with more than 7,000 homes and 88 businesses "significantly damaged".

The city of Dickinson's application form for storm damage fix funding includes a clause stating that "By executing this Agreement below, the Applicant verifies that the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement". The recovery fund, financed primarily by the municipality, is accessible only to applicants who verify that they "will not boycott Israel during the term of this [accord]".

Dickinson applicants have to agree to act as an "independent contractor" in order to receive grant money from the city.

The BBC has given a platform for BDS to cynically present itself as a peaceful, non-violent, Palestinian-led initiative to boycott Israeli goods such as oranges and avocados, ignoring the real aim of the campaign, which is to see the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

"Dickinson's requirement is an egregious violation of the First Amendment, reminiscent of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths requiring Americans to disavow membership in the Communist party and other forms of "subversive" activity", said ACLU of Texas legal director Andre Segura.

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In Kansas, ACLU is taking the state to court over a contract a teacher had to sign to be eligible for a state-funded program to help other teachers. Meaning, it's unclear if any Dickinson residents have reached out to the ACLU about having been denied benefits or about filing a lawsuit against the city. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled that such political boycotts were a form of free expression and association and thus protected by the First Amendment.

Texan law prohibits the state from entering into contracts with a business unless it "does not boycott Israel; and will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract", and local council are using this law with individuals following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Passed and signed into law in May, it was hailed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. She stressed the state was only following State law.

However, as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has pointed out, the contract infringes upon constitutional rights. In defending similar laws, he said there is a distinction between expressive speech vs. the regulation of commercial conduct.

No other clauses about political affiliations or beliefs are included in the form.

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