Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Texas city says no hurricane aid if you boycott Israel

Boycott Israel & you won’t get aid donations Hurricane Harvey victims told A man dumps debris of his house flooded in Dickinson Texas the United States on Sept. 2 2017
Andrew Cummings | 23 October, 2017, 04:28

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 applications on its website that would allow applicants access to financial aid from the Dickinson Harvey Relief fund.

The grant money was donated to the Dickinson Harvey Relief Fund.

The city began accepting applications October 11 for grants to rebuild homes or businesses damaged in the storm that made landfall August 25.

However, individuals and businesses submitting applications (pdf) for the funding must sign a contract affirming that "the applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this agreement".

Andre Segura, legal director for ACLU of Texas, blasted the grant aid condition as a violation of free speech and said the government can not hinge relief funds on a promise to "refrain from protected" political speech.

The state of Texas passed a law in May banning state entities from contracting with businesses that boycott Israel.

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 USA and under consideration in Congress-as violations of constitutional free speech rights.

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"The application clearly requires people to have a certain political expression in order to get government benefits", an attorney, Randy Kallinen, said in an interview.

David Olson, Dickinson's city attorney, told KTRK that he's obligated by state law to put the controversial clause in the application until he's told otherwise. "Anybody who is forced to sign the certification regarding their First Amendment protected beliefs, expression, and association has had their constitutional rights violated regardless of whether or not they're engaged in the underlying activity or whether or not they're going to be penalized for participating in it", Hauss told Bustle.

OUTRAGEOUS - a condition of hurricane relief in Dickinson, TX requires that you agree not to Boycott Israel.

The ACLU recently sued over a similar law in Kansas. His pro-Israel sentiment is echoed throughout Texas policies: a proposal request for a new police uniform contractor from the city of Galveston requires contractors to "verify under oath" that they do not boycott Israel.

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".

But Dickinson isn't the only city in Texas to begin including such anti-BDS requirements in official contracts.

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