Texas School BDS Distortions: You Can’t Ignore The Source Of #FakeNews

Here’s the TL;DR summary on the #FakeNews story about an elementary school Speech Pathologist from Texas who’s claiming she was fired because she refuses to put aside her constitutional right to hate Israel and be part of the BDS movement. The excellent Volokh Conspiracy legal blog has the definitive legal explanation of what’s going on:

No, a Texas school district did not require speech pathologist Bahia Amawi to sign a “pro-Israel oath,” nor even to promise not to personally boycott Israel.

In short, this story is being widely misreported, the hysterical claims that Amawi is being forced to sign a pro-Israel pledge or personally do or not do anything in particular regarding Israel outside the context of her business are false, and the First Amendment lawsuit will almost certainly lose. Moreover, it’s nearly impossible to think of a way in which Ms. Amawi’s speech pathology business would ever have an opportunity to in any way boycott or otherwise economically harm Israel, rendering this pure political theater.

So here are the hysterical claims and it’s interesting to look at the media deconstruction: where did the claims first come from and who distributed them. As usual with the best anti-Israel stories, they unite all the people from out-and-out haters to those who think they just dislike certain Jews. There’s a big story out of Texas. This is how it appears in Ha’aretz:

TALK OF THE TOWN — Texas Elementary School Speech Pathologist Lost Her Job for Refusing to Sign Pro-Israel Oath —  by Audrey McNamara: “Texas’s ban on contracting with any boycotter of Israel constitutes viewpoint discrimination that chills constitutionally-protected political advocacy in support of Palestine,” reads the lawsuit filed by children’s speech pathologist Bahia Amawi… The Pflugerville Independent School District included new language in their contracts this year requiring that employees “will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract.” … Amawi was told there was no alternative: Either Amawi signed the oath or the district, as a public institution, would not pay her.” [DailyBeast; TheIntercept

Notice their source, Glenn Greenwald’s Intercept (DailyBeast is a re-write of Greenwald). It seems that there isn’t a piece of Palestinian propaganda or spin which Greenwald won’t pump out to his devoted audience which the far-left progressive Jew haters lap up. His own piece goes into a huge rant about the US’s 1st Amendment (restricting the Governments right to curtail peoples’ speech).

The oath given to Amawi would also likely prohibit her even from advocating such a boycott given that such speech could be seen as “intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel.”

From Ha’aretz and the Intercept, we now jump to a completely different side of the political spectrum: Vox Day who “describes himself as a Christian nationalist” and is a leading intellectual figure in the real alt-right (I know what I’m talking about here, not like those idiots claiming PewDiePie, Count Dankula or Sargon of Akkad are alt-right).

IF one takes what Glenn Greenwald writes as true, then I have a great deal of sympathy for Vox Day’s analysis:

Is Israel the real enemy of America?

Because I don’t see Russia or China or Iran actively attempting to interfere with and eliminate the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens. And anti-BDS laws are intrinsically anti-American.

Regardless of what you may think of Israel, or any other country, a U.S. citizen absolutely has the right to personally boycott any business he wants for any reason at all. And a freaking SCHOOL DISTRICT has no right to act in this inquisitorial, conscience-violating manner on behalf of a foreign nation. This direct legal assault on the core Constitutional rights of Americans is an absolutely insane overreaction on the part of the Israel First fifth column in the United States to the growing anti-Israel BDS movement.

Now, I support Israel. I do not support the BDS movement. But I am 100 percent opposed to this insane, egregious, offensively stupid assault on the unalienable rights of Americans. And if these anti-American laws are not overturned for their blatant unconstitutionality, as I expect they will be, then every single US supporter of Israel will have to seriously consider endorsing the BDS movement on principle.

This anti-BDS legal campaign goes far beyond the concept of an own goal. In sports terms, this is Jim Marshall running with the ball towards his own end zone.

Unfortunately I partially agree with Vox Day because at every turn I see the mainstream Jewish organisations veering toward totalitarianism and tyranny and away from personal freedom. Progressive Jew do it with their insane talk about “hate” speech too.

I agree with Israel acting at our border to turn BDS supporters away (which apparently we’re not doing that much) but I don’t think Jews should be aggressively lobbying for America to implement or change laws for us. If there are applicable wider laws against discrimination, use them, but lobbying for further freedom restrictions in America is very bad.

But of course, it turns out we’re all wrong, Vox Day included, because we fell into the trap of taking what Glenn Greenwald writes in good faith! Of course he’s presenting nothing but the distorted spin of some virulently anti-Israel lawyers trying to make a PR stunt (because their legal case has no merit).

Back to the proper legal analysis of David Bernstein at The Volokh Conspiracy site (my highlight):

There are a lot of things I could say about the law and the lawsuit, but I have some time constraints, so I will just explain why Greenwald’s take, repeated ingenuously by reporters apparently too lazy to look up the actual text of the underlying law and what Ms. Amawi was asked to sign, is wrong.

Texas has a law banning state entities from contracting with businesses, including sole proprietorships, that boycott Israel. As a result, just like local governments require contractors to certify that they adhere to many other state laws, such as anti-discrimination laws and financial propriety laws, they also must certify, in compliance with state law, that their business does not boycott Israel.

Note that, consistent with the language and obvious intent of the law (see the text here, it’s even titled “PROHIBITION ON CONTRACTS WITH COMPANIES BOYCOTTING ISRAEL”), the school district certification applies to the business, “it,” not the individual “she.” Contrary to what I’ve been reading all over the internet, Ms. Amawi is not being asked to pledge that she, in her personal capacity, will not privately boycott Israel, much less that, e.g., she will not advocate for boycotting Israel or otherwise refrain from criticizing Israel.

There is much more detail at the link, if you’re interested please read it there. In the end David Bernstein, Vox Day and myself all seem to be saying the same thing:

As a libertarian, I’m sympathetic that there generally should be a right to boycott, even in the context of government contracting. What I am not sympathetic to, however, is the notion that we should expand antidiscrimination laws and contract constitutional restraints on such laws until, and only until, someone figures out that they could apply these laws to causes and institutions the left doesn’t like, such as the military (see Rumsfeld v. FAIR) or Israel, at which time we suddenly invent a broad First Amendment right to boycott. That, in essence, is the position the ACLU has taken for the past twenty years or so, and at best it’s wildly optimistic about how politics actually works, and at worst it’s simply intellectually dishonest. The Supreme Court certainly didn’t buy it in FAIR.

The number one message: if any story you read on Israel comes from the poison pen of Glenn Greenwald, you either have to file it in the #FakeNews bin or do some proper research to learn why he’s deceiving you again.


Brian of London

Brian of London is not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy. Since making aliyah in 2009, Brian has blogged at Israellycool. Brian is an indigenous rights activist fighting for indigenous people who’ve returned to their ancestral homelands and built great things.

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