Texas city refuses providing hurricane aid to those who boycott Israel

A volunteer helps clean up the damage at a Lutheran church in Dickinson Texas

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 website for Dickinson is accepting applications for individuals and businesses who need assistance following the devastating August hurricane. The State of Texas did pass a law forbidding the state from employing contractors who boycott Israel, but the city's form makes no indication that this is an extension of this law.

Dickinson was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey two months ago. But then the application asks the applicant to pledge they won't boycott Israel. The ACLU of Texas issued a statement and called the requirement unconstitutional.

"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", Segura added.

Dickinson City Management assistant Bryan Milward attributed the clause to a state law, signed in May, that requires all state contractors to certify that they are not participating in boycotts of Israel.

The ACLU recently sued over a similar law in Kansas. A representative of Dickson explained that the clause was included to comply with a new state law prohibiting Texas agencies from contracting with companies boycotting Israel.


Dickinson city attorney David W. Olson confirmed to ABC 13 the unusual stipulation was required per Texas legislation enacted earlier this year that prohibits all state agencies from entering into contracts or investing funds with those who 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". Accordingly, the state declined to contract her.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has criticized the application an attack on free speech. This law professor from Northwestern University helped out on Texas' anti-BDS bill.

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.

"The government should not be denying disaster relief funds based on people's political beliefs".

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