‘Con­fu­sion’ Over Texas Law Led Town to Re­quire Anti-BDS Pledge

Texas law­maker clar­i­fies state anti-BDS law not meant to cover re­lief fol­low­ing hur­ri­canes and other nat­u­ral disas­ters

The Jewish Voice - - NATIONAL - By: A7 Staff

Anorth­ern Texas state rep­re­sen­ta­tive said that a town that asked its res­i­dents to cer­tify that they do not par­tic­i­pate in boy­cotting Is­rael in or­der to re­ceive hur­ri­cane aid was due to “con­fu­sion” over a new state law.

Repub­li­can State Rep. Phil King au­thored state leg­is­la­tion against BDS, or boy­cotts of Is­rael, ear­lier this year. The leg­is­la­tion went into ef­fect last month.

“It’s not un­com­mon to have some con­fu­sion when a new law goes into ef­fect. Th s bill in no way ap­plies to the type of sit­u­a­tion that hap­pened in Dick­in­son,” King, who has been a state leg­is­la­tor since 1999, told the Is­raeli daily Haaretz in an in­ter­view on Satur­day night.

The web­site for the town of Dick­in­son is ac­cept­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses who need as­sis­tance fol­low­ing Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, which dev­as­tated the area in Au­gust. Ac­cord­ing to the ap­pli­ca­tion, those who sign must ver­ify that the ap­pli­cant “(1) does not boy­cott Is­rael; and (2) will not boy­cott Is­rael dur­ing the term of this Agree­ment.”

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. Mil­ward em­pha­sized that the city will not be ver­i­fy­ing com­pli­ance with the clause and said he doesn’t ex­pect any ap­pli­ca­tions to be re­jected be­cause of it.

Dick­in­son, a city of about 19,000, was hit es­pe­cially hard by Har­vey. More than three-quar­ters of its homes were dam­aged by the hur­ri­cane, and 830 were de­stroyed, ac­cord­ing to Mil­ward.

King told Haaretz that the sit­u­a­tion in Dick­in­son does not ap­ply to the law, be­cause “they had pri­vate con­tri­bu­tions from ci­ti­zens to a re­lief fund in the city, and the city has set up a grant pro­gram to give those funds to help in dis­as­ter clean-up and restora­tion. Tho e are not tax­payer dol­lars, so the law by no means ap­plies to these re­lief ef­forts.”

King told the news­pa­per that the state “needs to take steps to clar­ify things, so that some­thing like this doesn’t hap­pen again.”

King said of the leg­is­la­tion: “This is what the bill is about. Thi is Amer­ica. If you’re an in­di­vid­ual or a com­pany and you want to boy­cott Is­rael, that’s your right to do so. We just won’t put our tax­payer money into it.”

Is­rael sent sev­eral teams to Texas to help with hur­ri­cane re­lief, and

three Is­raeli res­cue or­ga­ni­za­tions Ma­gen David Adom, ZAKA, and United Hatza­lah - sent per­son­nel to help vic­tims. Some of these vol­un­teers re­mained in Texas for sev­eral weeks af­ter the hur­ri­cane. Is­raAID also sent vol­un­teers, and the Is­raeli govern­ment do­nated $1 mil­lion in aid to Har­vey's vic­tims.

A north­ern Texas state rep­re­sen­ta­tive said that a town that asked its res­i­dents to cer­tify that they do not par­tic­i­pate in boy­cotting Is­rael in or­der to re­ceive hur­ri­cane aid was due to “con­fu­sion” over a new state law.

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