Texas City Demands That Hurricane Relief Victims Not Boycott Israel

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The "Hurricane Harvey Repair Grant Application and Agreement" issued by the City of Dickinson, Texas, lays out one of its condition as: "Verification not to Boycott Israel".

The grant money was donated to the Dickinson Harvey Relief Fund. Indeed, the form mentions the funds provided coming from "various individuals, businesses, and other organizations" to help recover from the hurricane.

"By executing this Agreement below, the Applicant verifies that the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement", the application reads at the very bottom.

"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".

Critics, including the ACLU, are condemning not only the city's requirement but also Texas's anti-protest law-and similiar measures enacted across the USA and under consideration in Congress-as violations of constitutional free speech rights.

The ACLU statement also said the application form was "unconstitutional".

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 hasn't sued Dickinson, but they are asking to hear from locals asked to sign the form.

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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?

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".

Texas Governor Greg Abbott was an outspoken proponent of the anti-BDS law, declaring that "any anti-Israel policy is an anti-Texas policy".

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.

But Dickinson isn't the only city in Texas to begin including such anti-BDS requirements in official contracts. Accordingly, the state declined to contract her.

And, according to Hauss, Texas isn't the only place where similar anti-BDS laws have cropped up. Kallinen said when it comes to individuals, there may be questions about how the law is interpreted.

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