Resident commissioner loses seat for refusing to remove Israel divestment resolution from commission agenda
As we prepare to release our report documenting the “Palestine Exception to Free Speech”, a canonical example is playing out in the city of Berkeley where a city councilmember recently terminated a citizen commissioner in order to extinguish her speech critical of Israel.
Last week, Cheryl Davila, a resident serving on Berkeley’s Human Welfare and Action Commission, sought to bring a boycott and divestment resolution to the commission’s meeting agenda. Her intention was to discuss Palestinian human rights as an issue of concern to her and other Berkeley residents, and discuss what the city of Berkeley could do to end its complicity with Israel’s human rights violations. The issue had been on the agenda since October 2014.
City Councilmember Daryl Moore called her the day before the meeting and gave her an ultimatum: if she did not remove the issue from the agenda, he would remove her from her seat on the commission. Passionate about this issue, Davila refused, and Moore made good on his threat. The following evening, when Davila arrived at the commission meeting, a staff member informed her that she no longer had a seat on the commission.
Palestine Legal has responded to hundreds of incidents of suppression in which Palestinian human rights advocates are targeted – including firings, harassment, and false accusations of terrorism. Commissioner Davila is the latest target among many.