People and businesses in a Houston suburb will not receive funds donated to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts if they support the boycott of Israel.
The city of Dickinson, Texas recently posted applications online for relief grants “from the funds that were generously donated to the Dickinson Harvey Relief Fund,” the city’s website said.
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However the application includes a provision requiring applicants to certify in writing that they will not take part in the boycott of Israel.
The city of Dickinson, Texas is requiring people applying for Hurricane Harvey aid to promise not to boycott Israel. This is unconstitutional.
— ACLU (@ACLU) October 19, 2017
“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,” read the application form.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized the city’s condition as a violation of free speech rights.
“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,” said ACLU of Texas Legal Director Andre Segura.
The clause likely stems from a Texas law passed in May that requires all state contractors to certify that they are not participating in boycotts of Israel.
“As Israel’s No. 1 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… Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies, and we will not tolerate such actions against an important ally,” said Governor Greg Abbott at the signing ceremony.
Dickinson is one of the hardest hit towns in the Houston area, according to a September report from KTRK. Some 7,000 homes and 88 businesses were seriously damaged, said the local police department. The small town is home to just 20,000 people.