Texas speech pathologist Bahia Amawi filed a lawsuit after a school district required she sign a contractual clause prohibiting her from boycotting Israeli products while working for the district.
“My first reaction was shock,” Amawi said, according to the Texas Tribune. “Why is the government restricting me from boycotting a certain entity?”
Amawi is an American citizen of Palestinian descent, according to WaPo.
Her contract’s stipulations come after Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 89 into law in May 2017, barring state agencies from contracting with companies that boycott Israeli products.
The bill is a response to a pro-Palestinian movement “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS),” boycotting Israeli products in an attempt to apply economic pressure on the state. Proponents of the movement say the boycott will help end what they allege is the occupation of and violence against Palestine by Israel.
“This language is required by the State of Texas for all school districts in Texas, along with other governmental entities,” the school district said in a statement explaining the requirement, according to WaPo.
Of the new codes and compliances Amawi was asked to sign, the prohibition of an Israeli boycott “was the only one that was not related to my job,” she said, according to the Dallas Observer.
Amawi is seeking an injunction intended to remove the anti-BDS clause from school contracts. The injunction also asks for attorney fees compensation, WaPo reported. (RELATED: Palestinian Activists, Israel-Supporters Clash As Pressure Builds To Fire Left-Wing Professor Marc Lamont Hill)
“[By signing], I would not only be betraying Palestinians suffering under an occupation that I believe is unjust and thus become complicit in their repression, but I’d also be betraying my fellow Americans by enabling violations of our constitutional rights to free speech and to protest peacefully,” Amawi said, WaPo reported.
“[R]efusing to renew a contract of someone who wishes to advocate a political position raises very serious constitutional concerns,” constitutional law expert at Emory University Fred O. Smith told WaPo.
Abbot tweeted support for Israel on Tuesday in reaction to Amawi’s lawsuit.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) December 17, 2018
A spokesman for Paxton also supported the anti-BDS contractual clause.
“Private citizens and companies have every right to express their views on any issue they wish by boycotting companies and citizens,” Marc Rylander, Director of Communications for Paxton’s office, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “They do not, however, have a right to use their business activity with the state to make that statement.”
“The taxpayers of Texas do not want their money used to marginalize and attack a key ally and trading partner of Texas,” Rylander added.
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