A Texas city can stop requiring residents to certify they will not boycott Israel as part of applications for Hurricane Harvey rebuilding funds.
That according to a state lawmaker who authored the legislation officials in the city of Dickinson said they were obeying.
“It’s not uncommon to have some confusion when a new law goes into effect.” Republican State Rep. Phil King told the Israeli daily Haaretz in an interview Saturday. “This bill in no way applies to the type of situation that happened in Dickinson.”
The website for the town of Dickinson, which is located near Houston, is accepting applications for individuals and businesses who need assistance following Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the area in August. Each applicant is asked to verify that he or she “(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 emphasised 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 law does not apply to the situation in Dickinson 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. Those are not taxpayer dollars, so the law by no means applies to these relief efforts.”
He said there was a “misunderstanding” and 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. This 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.”