ACLU to Fight Outrageous Kansas Law Making Teachers Sign Anti-BDS Pledge

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Oct 12. The Israeli paper Haaretz reports that the American Civil Liberties Union will sue to overturn a new Kansas law that state officials are interpreting to make school teachers sign an anti-BDS pledge. The suit will be filed on behalf of Esther Koonz, a math teacher and trainer. Koonz who has taught for nine years "was asked for the first time to sign a form, in accordance with the "anti-BDS" law recently passed in Kansas. The form requires employees to confirm that they have not participated in a boycott of Israel and, as outlined by the bill, confirming otherwise would make them unemployable by the state." The ACLU reports that Koonz had been told she would need to sign the certification statement in order to participate in a state program training other math teachers. Koonz has decided not to buy Israeli products made in the West Bank in a response to a call from her Mennonite church and refused to sign the anti-BDS pledge. The ACLU notes that the anti-BDS measure is like laws of the "McCarthy era, when many state laws required government employees to declare they were not members of the Communist Party or other 'subversive groups' in order to keep their jobs." The ACLU fought successfully to have these measures declared void.

There is a difference here that the ACLU doesn't mention. The misguided laws of the '50's supposedly were there to prove loyalty to the U.S. This law demands loyalty to Israel.

The law HB 2409 which was passed in June says the state will not do business with a company or individual "acquire or to dispose of services, supplies, information technology or construction" unless the "company submits a written certification that such individual or company is not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel" and by Israel it specifically include "territories controlled by Israel". Nothing in the bill has anything to say about teachers, but evidently some enthusiastic pro-apartheid official has decided that teachers supply "services" and are covered by the law!

The Israeli government has been pushing its minions to pass anti-BDS laws in every U.S. state and have had varying degrees of success in around 21 states. When criticized for supporting this obvious attack on free speech rights legislators often say, "Oh, it just applies to companies. It has nothing to do with individuals and free speech". Believers in the Constitution point to a slippery slope that will lead to attacks on individuals. Well with this Kansas law the slippery slope has become more like a walk off a cliff.

A quick internet search, unfortunately, does not turn up any evidence that the Kansas or national American Federation of Teachers or National Education Assoiciation took a stand against the bill or issed a statement when it was applied to teachers. The groups should be pressed on the issue.

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