Texas refuses aid to American supporters of BDS

Saul Bowman
October 23, 2017

The city of Dickinson, Texas released on Monday a new application for relief funds to rebuild homes and businesses.

The city posted on its website that grant applications are being accepted for money 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. The particular clause under question states "the Applicant verifies 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.

When he signed the bill into law in May he said that "any anti-Israel policy is an anti-Texas policy".

The city attorney of Dickinson said they were just following the law, according to KTRK.

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".

To get hurricane aid in the city of Dickinson, one has to take a pledge not to boycott Israel.

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.

Surrounding cities hit by Harvey do not ask for a similar stipulation, according to Middle East Eye, and Kallinen said he is unaware of other municipalities requiring a like-minded clause. Accordingly, the state declined to contract her. This law professor from Northwestern University helped out on Texas' anti-BDS bill. "These laws have been popping up over the past few years as part of what we view as a sustained legislative assault on the right to boycott", Hauss told Bustle.

"It would violate the first amendment to the Constitution to require someone to abstain from a boycott of a country because boycotts are treated the same as speech by the law", Kallinen said. "In terms of enforcement, what I think is really pernicious about these laws is they're created to scare people", Hauss told Bustle.

No other clauses about political affiliations or beliefs are included in the form. "That sort of chill is exactly what the first amendment is meant to protect from happening".

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

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