We are at a crossroads as Trump enters the White House.
Over the past few years, Palestine Legal has responded to hundreds of incidents of suppression aimed at silencing and intimidating people who advocate openly for Palestinian rights in the US, leading to what we have called the Palestine Exception to Free Speech. These efforts emanate from the Israeli government and Israel advocacy groups that oppose any criticism of Israel and aim to preserve the status quo of occupation, siege and apartheid, even if it means crushing civil liberties and civil rights to do it.
There was Paul Hadweh, the student facilitator of the course “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis” at UC Berkeley who, after a campaign by Israel advocacy groups, heard in a Israeli media report that his course had been suspended. There is the recent incident at Fordham University, where administrators vetoed the establishment of a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group after stringing students along for over a year, claiming that SJP would be too “polarizing” for the campus to tolerate. And all over the country, we are seeing legislation pushed through state legislatures and the US Congress aimed at undermining constitutionally protected advocacy for Palestinian rights, including advocacy for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).
Today, an administration that is openly hostile to the First Amendment, to civil rights, and to social justice, is assuming power. We know that those who have been targeting Palestine advocates for years are emboldened.
Now is the time for people who believe in a free and democratic society to stand up and protect it for everyone, without exception. Even if all branches of government align in their assault on our rights, there is one more check: the People.
Palestine Legal stands with those exercising and protecting our right to dissent, and working toward a more just, equal and free society. As we said in the wake of election day, and reiterate again today, “we renew our commitment to protecting freedoms that have been hard won, to defending those under attack, and to ensuring that the voices of people long silenced are heard loud and clear.”
To report an incident of suppression related to your Palestine advocacy, contact us here.
For students, see our Student Handbook here.
For other Know Your Rights resources, see the ACLU’s page here.