|Civil Rights and
the Creation of a Hostile Workplace
| By enacting laws or company policies accepting the
divest-from-Israel campaign, municipalities, businesses, schools and non-profit
organizations are potentially exposing themselves up to charges of creating a
hostile work environment and creating a discriminatory hiring policy. If
someone in the organization has, for example, a connection to Israel, be it
that they are Jewish, Israeli or perhaps a Christian with a connection to the
Holy Land or other connection, the person may feel their religious and personal
beliefs are being trampled on by the divestment stance.
As such, these
employees may victims of discrimination by the policy or law. If a municipality
or other governmental entity enacts a divest-from-Israel stance, residents of
that city, county or district may also feel that they are being singled out for
their religious beliefs and that their personal rights are being trampled on.
There have been cases in which US some businesses have deliberately
avoided using Jewish employees in contracts with work connected to Arab
countries in order not to offend their clients. Such actions, however, were
found to be discriminatory in court because such faith-based policies violate
US domestic civil rights laws.
Businesses may claim they have been put
in the position of having a hard time to keep clients happy by not
discriminating, but that stands in direct opposition of the freedoms this
country holds dear. Additionally, the antiboycott laws prohibit foreign
countries from requesting certifications that the products they are purchasing
are not made in a specific country, usually Israel. Declarations such as these
are worked around by the request of certification that the product is entirely
This, however, does not circumvent the fact that organization
can, even with the best intentions, engage in civil rights violations by
creating an environment that makes people uncomfortable in their employment, as
well as sending a message to prospective employees that they are not welcome
based on their religious beliefs.
In 1956, the US Senate passed a
resolution stating that attempts by foreign nations to discriminate against US
citizens on the basis of their religion was incompatible with friendly
relations between states, and that every effort must be made to uphold the
principle of non-discrimination. Clearly, it is US policy not only to uphold
civil rights laws internally, but also to prevent foreign nations from imposing
their civil rights violations on the US.
Civil rights violations
involving adopting a divest-from-Israel stance is but one of the legal problems
that may be encountered. This is not to say that creating a policy to invest in
Israel will result in discrimination toward Arabs. A policy to buy one brand of
shoes does not discriminate against another brand. The violations occur when
you specifically deny a product or purchase. For example, a policy to hire
black people is not considered a discriminatory policy toward white people, yet
a policy to specifically exclude white people or a policy not to hire minority
businesses is discriminatory.