Wednesday, December 08, 2021

  • Wednesday, December 08, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon


For more than two decades, Texan civil engineer Rasmy Hassouna was a contractor for the city of Houston. Hassouna has consulted the city on soil volatility in the nearby Gulf of Mexico – a much needed service to evaluate the structural stability of houses and other buildings.

He was gearing up to renew his government contract when a particular legal clause caught his eye: a provision that effectively banned him or his company, A&R Engineering and Testing, Inc, from ever protesting the nation of Israel or its products so long as his company was a partner with the city of Houston.

For Hassouna – a 59-year-old proud Palestinian American – it was a huge shock.

“I came here and thought I was a free man. It’s not anybody’s business what I do or what I say, as long as I’m not harming anybody,” he told the Guardian. “Were you lying all this time? If I don’t want to buy anything at WalMart, who are you to tell me not to shop at WalMart? Why do I have to pledge allegiance to a foreign country?”

Everything here is a lie. There is no ban.

The Texas law says:
A governmental entity may not enter into a contract with a company for goods or services unless the contract contains a written verification from the company that it:
               (1)  does not boycott Israel; and
               (2)  will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract.
All it says is that the State of Texas will not do business with companies that boycott Israel or Israeli products. 

It doesn't say that Texas has a "ban on boycotting Israel," as the Guardian headline claims. 

Rasmy Hassouna can boycott Israel all he wants. He can protest Israel all he wants. His company can put a giant picture of  a swastika on an Israeli flag in its lobby if it wants and still remain a legal contractor for the State of Texas. It is certain that his company doesn't have any bylaws that say "we will never buy Israeli products" so, as company president, he can even sign the provision saying the company doesn't boycott Israel without doing anything wrong.

And if Hassouna insists that his company must boycott Israel, then he can no longer bid on Texas contracts. The company would not be banned or declared illegal. 

Is this a freedom of speech issue? No. Boycotts aren't speech, they are actions. Texas could say they won't do business with companies boycott Black-owned businesses without that being considered a violation of the companies' freedom of speech. 

Texas contractors must agree to a host of other legal requirements to obtain business, like not being allowed to discriminate against others based on national origin, or not being allowed to do overtly religious actions. They have to display civil rights posters if they deal with clients. They can't discriminate against anyone based on sex, race, color, disability, religion and other criteria. No one says that this is a violation of freedom of speech. These requirements are no easier than asking businesses to say they won't discriminate against Israel or Israeli products. 

The Guardian's anti-Israel bias could not be clearer.










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