After getting fired for boycotting Israel, one US citizen is fighting back

Bahia Amawi, US citizen fired for boycotting Israel.
Afroze Zaidi-Jivraj

Palestinian-American Bahia Amawi worked as a speech and language therapist at a school in Texas. But she lost her job because she refused to sign a contract forbidding her from boycotting Israel. Now, she’s fighting back.

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The movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel has been gaining traction. But Governor Greg Abbott has backed an anti-BDS law which came into effect in Texas in May 2017.

While news of Amawi’s treatment has been largely absent from mainstream media, independent outlets have reported it widely:

Speaking to the Intercept about why she decided to take action over the discrimination against her, Amawi said:

The point of boycotting any product that supports Israel is to put pressure on the Israeli government to change its treatment… of the Palestinian people. Having grown up as a Palestinian, I know first hand the oppression and the struggle that the Palestinians face on a daily basis.

The video of her interview has received 1.23m views on Twitter:

Community

Amawi’s service to children in her community has been a particular casualty of her unfair dismissal. In an article on Amawi’s ordeal, Glenn Greenwald wrote:

Texas’s Israel loyalty oath requirement victimizes not just Amawi, an American who is barred from working in the professional field to which she has devoted her adult life, but also the young children in need of her expertise and experience that she has spent years developing.

Freedom of speech

Messages of solidarity have been pouring in for Amawi. Many have emphasised how forbidding a boycott of Israel violates the First Amendment rights afforded in the US constitution, which protect citizens’ right to freedom of expression, including the expression of political or religious beliefs:

Justice

Amawi is taking legal action against her treatment, with the support of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR):

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is also suing the state of Texas, saying blocking government contractors from boycotting Israel is a violation of free speech:

Amawi has shown courage in the face of state legislature as well as the powerful Israel lobby in the US. And supporters of Palestinian rights everywhere are on her side.

Featured image via YouTube/The Young Turks

Get involved

  • Tweet your support on the #StandWithBahia hashtag
  • Learn more about the BDS movement and see how you can show solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.
  • Take action with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and see previous Canary articles on Palestine and Israel.

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