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Home / World / Bahia Amawi would not sign a pro-Israeli pledge and it cost her her job

Bahia Amawi would not sign a pro-Israeli pledge and it cost her her job




Ken Paxton, the justice minister of Texas, is named as the defendant in the lawsuit. (Nick Wagner / Austin American-Statesman / AP)

Bahia Amawi, a language pathologist who worked as a professor As a contractor in a Texas school district for nine years, she received a new contract to sign in September for the upcoming term.

The agreement asked her to confirm that she had not boycotted Israel, claiming that she would not do so at school.

She refused the signing. Amawi, an American citizen of Palestinian descent who was born in Austria, said the statements violated their principles: their attitude towards Israeli treatment of Palestinians and their belief in the First Amendment. She therefore had to give up the work with the district.

The agreement stemming from a law passed in 2017 banning Republican-run state legislators and state governors from allowing state authorities to boycott companies that are boycotting Israel is the subject of a lawsuit this week by Amawi Federal Court in Austin filed.

Amawi says enforcement of the law by the state violates their right to freedom of expression.

"My first reaction was a shock," Amawi told reporters Monday. "Why is the government preventing me from boycotting a particular entity?"

Amawi began working for the independent school district of Pflugerville outside Austin in 2009. Her work is to conduct reviews of Arabic-speaking children, according to the lawsuit she filed. Texas Attorney Ken Paxton and the school district are named in the lawsuit.

In a statement released on Facebook, the district said it was bound by the recently passed Texas law, which it put in a negative light.

"This language is needed by the state of Texas for all school districts in Texas and for other government agencies," the statement said. "Unfortunately, Pflugerville ISD and all Texas school districts are at the mercy of the state, and legal requirements are enshrined in law. In situations like these, we are forced to engage in government policy issues rather than our core task of educating students. "

Texas passed the law in 2017 as part of a wave of states that passed laws requiring that state agencies should not do business with companies supporting the "BDS Movement" (boycott, divestment and sanctions) to boycott Israeli goods

The language of the bill has been interpreted so broadly that the motion for some Grants for the victims of hurricane Harvey contained a similar provision that was reprimanded by local officials and the American Civil Liberties Union.

It is not clear if other states' laws were formulated or interpreted to be contracting parties such as Amawi

"Texas forbids signing a deal with a boycott of Israel Eßen, which is a standpoint discrimination A lawsuit that ruins the constitutionally protected political support in support of Palestine, "explains Amawis lawsuit.

Fred O. Smith, a constitutional law expert at Emory University, cited two precedents of the Supreme Court: a case from 1996 that the constitution vetoed unconstitutional government officials who reciprocated against independent contractors for their speech, and the ruling from 1976, Elrod v. Burns, which considered it unconstitutional that governments refuse to hire people for their political views in most cases.

"These Principles Taken Together It is emphasized that the rejection of a political-position contract is extremely serious under the Supreme Court precedents," Smith said.

The Texas Greg government Abbott (R) tweeted his support for Israel on Monday when news about Amawi's lawsuit circulated

"Texas stands by Israel" (19459040), he wrote . "Period."

Glenn Greenwald, Columnist and co-founder of Intercept, who often writes about Israeli politics while overlapping with that of the United States, wrote the contract harshly.

Affirmation Amawi was said to have read like Orwellian – or McCarthyite – self-parody, the classic political loyalty oath that every American should instinctively shudder at reading, "he wrote." To continue working, Amawi would be completely free to engage politically against his own country, to participate in an economic boycott of a state or city in the US, or to work against the policies of another government in the world except Israel.

Amawi said she had made the decision for her own values, but also as an example for her four children. She told Intercept that she did not think to sign the pledge to keep her job.

"I could not do that with a clear conscience," she said. "If I did, I would not only betray Palestinians who suffer from a garrison that I consider unfair, and therefore be complicit in their suppression, but would also cheat on my fellow Americans by violating our constitutional rights freedom of speech and disagreement to peacefully protest. "

Amawi's lawsuit claims that she is seeking an injunction stating the" no boycott of Israel "clause from school contracts and others nationwide and paying her" reasonable costs "and legal fees.

"The point of boycotting products that support Israel is putting pressure on the Israeli government to change their treatment, the inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people," she told Intercept.

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