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 application form includes a clause titled 'Verification not to boycott Israel, ' which requires to verify that "the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement".
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.
A snapshot of the relevant boycott section of the application is shown.
In addition to being mystifying - what do home repairs in Texas have to do with a country more than 7,000 miles away? - this requirement is clearly 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".
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According to the ACLU, the Supreme Court ruled that political boycotts were protected under the First Amendment in the 1982 case NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co.The case involved white merchants in Claiborne County, Mississippi, who, after they'd been boycotted, attempted to sue the organizations and individuals that had participated in the boycott for lost earnings.
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".
The Israel boycott provision in Dickinson's application is a strict interpretation of a Texas state law passed earlier this year that prohibits state agencies from contracting with companies that boycott Israel.
To get hurricane aid in the city of Dickinson, one has to take a pledge not to boycott Israel. Accordingly, the state declined to contract her.
However, as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has pointed out, the contract infringes upon constitutional rights. This law professor from Northwestern University helped out on Texas' anti-BDS bill.
No other clauses about political affiliations or beliefs are included in the form.