there is a speech pathologist in Texas who doesn't have a job because
she is a supporter of the Israel boycott and would not sign, in
effect, a loyalty oath to the State of Israel, as the Texas school
district in which she worked required.
are many threats to the First Amendment and the current wave of laws
or executive orders or rules that outlaw any support for the Boycott,
Divestment, Sanction (BDS) movement that is gaining strength around
the world, as a way of forcing Israel to halt that nation's
oppression of millions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West
Bank, which is peppered with illegal Jewish settlements.
must be considered that Bahia Amawi, the speech pathologist, does (or
did) work in Texas, the Lone Star State is far from the only state or
corporation that is curbing free speech when it comes to the BDS
movement or any other method of bringing what is generally called an
apartheid state to halt the oppression of Palestinians, who are under
virtually complete control of the Israel Defense Force and the head
of state, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.
to the Washington Post this week, “The agreement asked her to
affirm that she did not currently boycott Israel and assert that she
would not in the future while working for the school.” Such a
contract or agreement strikes at the heart of the right to free
speech and free thought in the First Amendment of the U.S.
Constitution. Of Palestinian descent, Amawi is a U.S. citizen and
was shocked that the district would require such an oath or
affirmation about a personal thought and action. But the law under
which the Pflugerville Independent School District requires such a
oath is merely following the law passed last year by the
Republican-majority Texas Legislature.
it is not just Texas that requires the signing of a contract
promising fealty to Israel, New York's governor, Andrew Cuomos,
issued an executive order in 2016 which “will ensure that no
state agency or authority engages in or promotes any investment
activity that would further the harmful and discriminatory
Palestinian-backed Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign
in New York State.” Cuomo made the announcement at the
Celebrate Israel Parade June 5, 2016.
wasn't enough that he issued the executive order that denies citizens
their right to hold opinions different from his and to punish those
who do, even if that might be the only instance in which he
perpetrates cancellation of a basic right. On signing the order,
Cuomo said, “I'm proud to sign this nation's leading executive
order, which will help protect Israel from the threat of divestment.
This order sends the message that this state will do everything in
its power to end this hateful, intolerant campaign. New York and
Israel share an unbreakable bond and I pray that the Israeli and
Palestinian people will find a way to live side by side and find
peace, prosperity and security.”
is obvious that Cuomo the Liberal knows nothing about the plight of
the Palestinians who are under the heel of the IDF under the control
of a right-wing government that wants and needs more land for a
Greater Israel. And, there's only one place for the nation to get
the land that it wants: All that was the ancestral homeland of the
Palestinians for millenia before 1948 when they were ethnic cleansed
for the creation of the state of Israel. Palestinians were told at
that time that they should leave their homes and villages for a
period of time, until the hostilities died down, and they would be
allowed to return. To this day, Palestinians are waiting for the
fulfillment of their “right of return,” as their homes
and villages are occupied by strangers.
more than half a century in exile (in their own homeland) as refugees
in the most abject poverty and want, no one could blame Palestinians
for believing that they never will be allowed their “right of
return.” If their homes and villages have not been buldozed,
they have been occupied for generations by Israelis, who are not
likely to give them up. Cuomo likely never has seen some of the
refugee camps in the Middle East or elsewhere, or he would not be
able to deny the oppression under which the Palestinians live. Being
able to use such cruel words about an oppressed people, the governor
clearly does not care about them. He did, however, in his executive
order, say, “New York and Israel share an unbreakable bond and
I pray that the Israeli and Palestinian people will find a way to
live side by side and find peace, prosperity and security.”
There was nothing in the order to indicate that he has even thought
about how “peace, prosperity and security” for all could
be accomplished under the oppressive circumstances that have existed
for generations in Israel.
in Palestinian civil society who created the BDS movement believed
that people of good will around the world would bring enough pressure
to bear on the Israeli government that it would ease the oppression
on Palestinians and give them their freedom, just as a similar
movement brought the government of South Africa to abandon apartheid
and allow the majority black population to rise to power in a
democratic structure with democratic elections.
combat the BDS movement, a variety of approaches have been taken.
Many in Israel and the U.S. have said that BDS is nothing, that it
has had very little effect on the economy of Israel, and that Israeli
officials have given it more publicity and credibility than it
deserves. This view recommends that BDS be allowed to run itself
out. Israeli politics, however, have been using it as an organizing
tool, warning American Jews and Israelis that the movement has the
possibility of inflicting great damage. In fact, many warn that the
BDS movement aims to destroy Israel or destroy its “legitimacy.”
How that will happen, they don't say, but they seem to be worried
about Israelis who oppose the brutal treatment of Palestinians in
their own country. The number of Israelis who hold that view could
be growing and that is what appears to worry Netanyahu and his
allies. In the U.S., the people hear very little about the Israeli
left and its views on Palestinian oppression from their mass media.
It could be because the government of Israel has a pretty good lid on
its left-wing opponents, just as what passes for a left in the U.S.
has a lid on it that is quite effective in keeping unpleasant issues
like Palestine out of the daily papers and nightly newscasts.
the U.S., it has not been so much outright censorship of news, but
the powers that be have been involved in a broad range of policies
that tamp down dissent. It has happened in the suppression of the
union movement, Black Lives Matter, and any other entity that makes
the rulers uncomfortable. The right-wing politicians and their
enablers among the liberals, along with Corporate America, have been
waging a very successful war against the people's right to
self-determination and, especially, the right to freely assemble, to
speak freely, and to associate with whomever they wish. These rights
are being diminished slowly and effectively, so that the victims
(citizens of America) hardly notice, except when an issue like the
Texas case comes up and is dealt with through the courts.
won't be enough, though. Courts won't be enough. There are
innumerable groups and organizations that are seeking the same goals
of saving our constitutional rights and providing our most vulnerable
Americans with a decent life. They number in the millions, but they
need to unite and act in concert and they need to do it in the
streets, so they can be seen in numbers that can't be ignored. It's
called solidarity and in solidarity can be found our freedom.