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

Pauline Gross
October 23, 2017

Dickinson, Texas, announced earlier this week that it was accepting applications for grants to help residents rebuild homes and businesses damaged by Hurricane Harvey, which took a particularly devastating toll on this Houston-area town of some 20,000 people.

A suburb outside of Houston is requiring residents who were affected by Hurricane Harvey to certify that they do not boycott Israel in order to apply for grant money to rebuild their home or business. 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]".

"The Supreme Court ruled decades ago that political boycotts are protected by the First Amendment, and other decisions have established that the government may not require individuals to sign a certification regarding their political expression in order to obtain employment, contracts, or other benefits", the ACLU wrote in a statement, referring to a 1982 decision that ruled that an NAACP boycott of a white-owned business in MS was a protected form of free association and expression.

ACLU calls the Dickinson application a violation of free speech rights.

"Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies, and we will not tolerate such actions against an important ally", Gov. Abbott said at the bill's signing, according to his official website.

The ACLU hasn't sued Dickinson, but they are asking to hear from locals asked to sign the form.

The city attorney defended the clause, saying it followed a recently passed state law that requires all state contractors to certify that they are not participating in boycotts of Israel.

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Dickinson Mayor Julie Masters told Bustle the city was in the process of "seeking clarification on the [bill's] language from the State", adding the city was compelled to follow the law as it now reads.

Dickinson was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey two months ago.

And, according to Hauss, Texas isn't the only place where similar anti-BDS laws have cropped up.

He was formerly a campaigns officer with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the Palestinian civil society coalition that acts as the Palestinian reference of the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with global law.

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

Dickinson Mayor Julie Masters did not respond to requests for comment.

Other reports by GizPress

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