Washington D.C. (TLS) – Dickinson, Texas released applications for Hurricane Harvey relief that requires applicants to verify that they will not boycott Israel during the term of their agreement with the city.
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, one of the most devastating tropical storms in the history of the United States, the city of Dickinson, Texas has posted grant applicationson its website that would allow applicants access to financial aid from the Dickinson Harvey Relief fund.
The application contains a provision that requires applicants to agree to verification that they will not Boycott Israel, a country “guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people,” according to a now redacted report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.
“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 application says.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has criticized the application an attack on free speech.
“The First Amendment protects Americans’ right to boycott, and the government cannot condition hurricane relief or any other public benefit on a commitment to refrain from protected political expression,” said ACLU of Texas Legal Director Andre Segura.
“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.”
Texas recently passed a bill, House Bill 89, otherwise known as the ‘Anti-Boycott, Divestments, Sanctions Act’, which placed restrictions on the state of Texas from entering into contracts or investmenting in public or private entities which are alleged to boycott Israel.
“Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies, and we will not tolerate such actions against an important ally,” said Texas Governor Greg Abbott in a news release.
As of Sep. 2017, 21 states have enacted anti-BDS laws, according to Palestine Legal, an independent organization in the U.S. that seeks to protect the Palestinian solidarity movement from “efforts to threaten, harass and legally bully activists into silence and inaction.”
As The Intercept notes, the ACLU plans to cite in their complaint a 1982 Supreme Court decision, NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., which involved a politically motivated boycott that sought to materially strain businesses that propagated segregation, a nearly identical case of history to the treatment of Palestinians in occupied Palestine. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously supported the boycotters.
This post originally ran on teleSUR.
Also published on Medium.