Want Storm Relief in Texas Town? Pledge Fealty to Israel

Cheryl Sanders
October 21, 2017

And sure enough, when one heads over to the Dickinson website, the application to receive a Harvey relief grant contains a section on the third page titled "Verification Not to Boycott Israel", spelling out that the applicant will "not boycott Israel", and won't do so at any time "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.

Despite the potentially volatile clause, city officials said it's merely upholding a recently-passed state law, House Bill 89 (HB 89), by including the provision in the application text. But clause 11 of the document mandates that applicants clearly state their political persuasion regarding Israel, an "egregious violation" of the First Amendment, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The geopolitical ideology requirement caught the attention of the ACLU, which said it violates the U.S. Constitution. The law was signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on May 2 and went into effect on September 1.

When Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law, he said, "As Israel's No. 1 trading partner in the United States, Texas is proud to reaffirm its support for the people of Israel and we will continue to build on our historic partnership", he said. Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies, and we will not tolerate such actions against an important ally. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled that such political boycotts were a form of free expression and association and thus protected by the First Amendment.

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

Olson said it's unclear if the new law applies to the city's grant program, funded by more than $1 million in private donations for victims.

Texas Gov. Abbott, Dickinson Mayor Julie Masters, nor Dickinson City Attorney David Olson returned Bustle's request for a comment.

Hurricane Harvey wrecked the Texas coast when it landed south of Houston.

Other reports by iNewsToday