American pathologist loses job for refusing pro-Israel oath

  • Bahia Amawi is a US citizen and was working with the school from 2009

TEXAS – A children’s speech pathologist based in Texas was fired from job after she refused to sign a pro-Israel oath, prompting the human rights activist to take legal course against the dismissal.

Bahia Amawi, who has worked for the last nine years with developmentally disabled, autistic, and speech-impaired elementary school students, had refused to sign an oath vowing that she “does not” and “will not” engage in a boycott of Israel or “otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm” on that foreign nation.

Following her refusal, Amawi was told that she can no longer work with the public school district.

Amawi began working in 2009 on a contract basis with the Pflugerville Independent School District to provide assessments and support for school children from the county’s growing Arabic-speaking immigrant community.

Ever since her joining, her contract was renewed each year without any hassle, however, same was not the case this year.

Pro-Israel clauses in contract that Amawi refused to sign

The school dispatched her the contract this year, however, there was an additional clause in the document which became a reason for her not to sign the contract.

A certification she was required to sign pledged that she “does not currently boycott Israel,” that she “will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract,” and that she shall refrain from any action “that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israeli or in an Israel-controlled territory.”

Amawi refused to sign the contract due to the pro-Israel clauses, but was fired; on her behalf a lawsuit was filed in a federal court in the Western District of Texas alleging a violation of her First Amendment right of free speech.

Amawi was born in Austria and has lived in the U.S. for the last 30 years; she is a US citizen and has four U.S.-born American children of her own but ironically the credentials did not fit well with the job unless she signs the pro-Israel contract.

“It’s baffling that they can throw this down our throats, and decide to protect another country’s economy versus protecting our constitutional rights,” the pathologist said in a conversation with The Intercept.

Amawi said that she could not truthfully or in good faith sign the oath citing the support of the global boycott to end Israel’s decades-long occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

‘I am not a major activist, I am a busy mom,’ the lady said and added that she had schooled her kids to fix anything they see wrong.

When asked if she was considering to sign the pledge, she replied in the negative.

“If I did, I would not only be betraying Palestinians suffering under an occupation that I believe is unjust and thus become complicit in their repression, but I’d also be betraying my fellow Americans by enabling violations of our constitutional rights to free speech and to protest peacefully,” she added.

Anti-BDS Israel Oath

The Anti-BDS Israel oath was included in Amawi’s contract papers due to an Israel-specific state law signed into law by GOP Gov. Greg Abbott in 2017.

The bill was passed by the lower House and Senate and when Governor Abbott signed the bill, he proclaimed: “Any anti-Israel policy is an anti-Texas policy.”