No, Texas Schools Don’t Require Employees to Sign a “Pro-Israel Oath”

Dec. 20 2018

A Texas speech pathologist has recently filed suit on First Amendment grounds because a public school that hired her as a contractor asked her to sign a statement mandated by the state’s law against boycotts of Israel. When the incident was first reported in the viciously anti-Israel Intercept, a headline described the statement as a “pro-Israel oath.” Not only is that false, many of the details given in the article itself—which have since been repeated in many media outlets that picked up the story—are misleading or incorrect. David E. Bernstein sets the record straight and explains why the law does not violate freedom of speech:

Texas has a law banning state entities from contracting with businesses, including sole proprietorships, that boycott Israel. As a result, just as 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 . . . that their business does not boycott Israel. . . .

Note that, consistent with the language and obvious intent of the law, the school district certification applies to the business [of which the speech pathologist is the sole proprietor]. Contrary to what I’ve been reading all over the Internet, she is not being asked to pledge that she, in a personal capacity, will not privately boycott Israel, much less that she will, e.g., not advocate for boycotting Israel or otherwise refrain from criticizing the country.

[Regarding] the First Amendment issue, [this law is] no different from requiring a contractor to pledge that his business does not refuse to hire Muslims, or Jews, blacks, veterans, or another state-designated group. The sole-proprietor contractor, or the certifying officer for a larger contractor, is still permitted to refuse to invite a Muslim to his house for dinner, or to advocate against Muslims in any way he chooses. The business simply can’t engage in action that the state disapproves of. . . .

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 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 . . . intellectually dishonest.

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Read more at Volokh Conspiracy

More about: American law, BDS, First Amendment, Israel & Zionism

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter