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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 US made.

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.
© 2005 Divestment Watch