Texas teacher’s suit challenges law against Israel boycotts


(JTA) — A speech pathologist in Austin, Texas is suing the local public school district after she was let go for refusing to sign an agreement that she “does not” and “will not” engage in a boycott of Israel.

The lawsuit filed on Monday morning in federal court in Texas calls the demand a violation of her First Amendment right to free speech, the Intercept reported.

Born in Austria, Bahia Amawi is a U.S. citizen who has lived in the country for 30 years. She has worked since 2009 on a contract basis with the Pflugerville Independent School District. When her contract was renewed in August it contained the no-Israel-boycott clause.

In May, Texas became the 20th U.S. state to pass a law or executive order banning state business with companies that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Now there are 26 states with such legislation and another 13 pending, according to Palestine Legal. The American Civil Liberties Union has raised objections to many of the laws, saying they inhibit free speech.

Amawi did not sign the contract because she and her family do not purchase goods produced by Israeli companies in support of the boycott against Israel over the occupation of the West Bank.

She is the only certified Arabic-speaking child’s speech pathologist in the district, which has a growing Arab population.

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