Texas Town to Get Harvey Aid Only if Residents Won't Boycott Israel

Kristopher Drake
October 23, 2017

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".

At first glance, most of the requirements outlined in the city of Dickinson's Hurricane Harvey Repair Grant Application and Agreement seem fairly commonplace. The application requires residents to commit to using the money to fix their damaged homes or businesses, to follow all building codes and to verify that they do not boycott Israel.

Dickinson applicants have to agree to act as an "independent contractor" in order to receive grant money from the city. But the application then asks applicants to pledge they won't boycott Israel. The ACLU of Texas issued a statement and called the requirement unconstitutional.

Critics, including the ACLU, are condemning not only the city's requirement but also Texas's anti-protest law-and similiar measures enacted across the US and under consideration in Congress-as violations of constitutional free speech rights. Dickinson City Attorney David Olson confirmed in an interview with KTRK that this was the reason it's in there, saying the city is committed to following the law. So far, 21 states across the United States have enacted laws against the movement they say alienates an important "ally".

Also known as Anti-BDS, HB 89 prohibits state agencies from contracting with and certain public funds from investing in companies boycotting Israel.

The ACLU recently sued over a similar law in Kansas.

When Governor Abbott signed the law, he said boycotting Israel is anti-Texas. Accordingly, the state declined to contract her.

As the organization pointed out, the Supreme Court in 1982 ruled the government can not put a stop to any "non-violent, politically motivated boycott created to force governmental and economic change". This law professor from Northwestern University helped out on Texas' anti-BDS bill. He noted the ACLU was now involved in a lawsuit challenging a Kansas law that went into effect July 1 and requires any individual or company seeking a contract with the state provide written verification they're not engaged in a boycott against Israel. "If you're thinking about participating in one of these boycotts but you need access to disaster relief, for example, the easier answer is just not to do it and to sign the form and just not participate in the boycott or keep quiet about it and not be vocal about your political beliefs and why you're engaging in this boycott".

Other reports by Ligue1talk

Discuss This Article