PSLS’ Letter to Haaretz Editor

PSLS’ Letter to Haaretz Regarding Wellesley College’s Firing of Hillel Workers

An edited version of this letter was originally published in Haaretz. Click here for the the posting.

To the Editor:

“Wellesley Jewish alums stop donations after Hillel firings” (Nov. 24) misrepresented events on campus when it bizarrely attempted to link two entirely separate events. The College’s decision to dismiss two Hillel employees has no relation to Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) speech activities critical of Zionism and Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.

Israel advocacy groups have been increasingly pressuring universities to condemn SJP’s political positions, to monitor student activism, and to censor or punish students and faculty who are supportive of Palestinian rights. These aggressive campaigns disguise efforts to stifle constitutionally protected speech by mislabeling speech that criticizes Israel’s policies as hateful and anti-Semitic, or “uncivil,” and therefore subject to suppression. Haaretz similarly misrepresented SJP’s activity when it suggested that criticism of Israeli state policy “crossed a line . . . to anti-Semitism.”

The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has emphatically rejected all complaints alleging that criticizing Israel is “harassment” or “intimidation” that “targets” and creates a “hostile educational environment” for Jewish students.  In this regard, the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear: “[A] function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute.”

Palestine Solidarity Legal Support has responded to over 220 requests for legal assistance and reports of repression in 2014. This is the real suppression that news media too frequently disregard.

Best regards,

Radhika Sainath

Staff Attorney Palestine Solidarity Legal Support New York City