ACLU Slams Houston Suburb for Withholding Hurricane Relief to Anyone Boycotting Israel

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The city of Dickinson, Texas, which was hit exceptionally hard by Hurricane Harvey, is requiring applicants for Harvey rebuilding funds to vow they won't boycott Israel in a move the American Civil Liberties Union has called "an egregious violation of the First Amendment".

The American Civil Liberties Union said it's considering legal action against the city of Dickinson over its Hurricane Harvey fix grant program, which will provide money to people whose homes and businesses in the city were damaged.

"It is absolutely unconscionable for state and local governments to impose political litmus tests on disaster relief funds for people devastated by Hurricane Harvey".

Dickinson, Texas, located alongside a bayou about 30 miles southeast of Houston, suffered extensive damage during the hurricane that tore through the area two months ago. About half of its citizens were affected by the devastating hurricane. "And it's like, 'Oh no, what could they possibly be thinking?'" King said.

"The state can not condition government benefits, ranging from disaster relief to just access to government contracts, on the forfeiture of ..."

Dickinson City Attorney David W. Olson told ABC 13 the stipulation was required per a Texas state enacted earlier this year that prohibits all state agencies from entering into contracts or investing funds with those who boycott Israel.

"As Israel's number one 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". This definitely should not apply to individuals because even the state law does not require that it be applied to individuals, just to companies.

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Verification not to Boycott Israel.

He added that "there is no indication" that the anti-BDS law applies to individual persons.

The law, which is similiar to laws in at least a dozen other states, took effect September 1. "We don't want to take away anyone's freedom of speech." she said. A former teacher was working as a contractor for Kansas Department of Education's Math and Science Partnerships program. And the government can not force people to give up their peaceful political activity in order to be eligible for public benefits. Passed and signed into law in May, it was hailed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. It stops Texas from doing business with companies involved in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel over the nation's treatment of Palestinians.

Congress is also considering a bill that would make it a felony for Americans to boycott Israel. "That sort of chill is exactly what the first amendment is meant to protect from happening".

"Over the past few years, we've seen a legislative assault on the right to boycott".

The primary objective of the law is to "scare people away" from participating in "protected First Amendment activity", Brian Hauss, an ACLU staff attorney said.

"There is no secret where this is coming from: There is a variety of pro-Israel interest groups that have made this their agenda, at the federal level as well", he said.

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