The city of Dickinson, Texas released on Monday a new application for relief funds to rebuild homes and businesses.
In Dickinson, Texas, located just outside Houston, residents were hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in August and the local government there began accepting applications for grants to rebuild homes and businesses on October 11. A provision of the application asks people to verify they do not boycott Israel and to promise not to do so during the terms of the agreement.
"The First Amendment protects Americans' right to boycott", Segura added, "and the government can not condition hurricane relief or any other public benefit on a commitment to refrain from protected political expression". Dickinson City Attorney David Olson confirmed in an interview with KTRK that this was the reason it's in there, saying the city is committed to following the law. While the ACLU does not take a position on boycotts of foreign countries, the organization has long supported the right to participate in political boycotts and has voiced opposition to laws and bills that infringe on the right to boycott.
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When Governor Abbott signed the law, he said boycotting Israel is anti-Texas.
So, why is the city of Dickinson asking relief grant applicants to certify that they are not now boycotting Israel and will not boycott the country while the agreement is in effect? She stressed the state was only following State law.
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. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled that such political boycotts were a form of free expression and association and thus protected by the First Amendment.
But Dickinson isn't the only city in Texas to begin including such anti-BDS requirements in official contracts.
The ACLU is filing suit, arguing this is unconstitutional, and adding that it is "absolutely unconscionable for state and local governments to impose political litmus tests of disaster relief funds".