Palestine Legal's statement in response to surge in incidents

October 23, 2015 - Palestine Legal issued the following statement today in response to the recent surge in incidents targeting Palestine advocacy in the U.S.:

As protesters in the U.S. condemn the recent surge in violence against Palestinians, students, community and labor activists across the country continue to face what we call the “Palestine Exception to Free Speech.” In recent weeks, Palestinian and Palestine solidarity activists in the U.S. have faced harassment, violations of their free speech rights, baseless legal threats, and material threats to their physical safety. 

  • Last week at the University of California Santa Barbara, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) was physically assaulted during an SJP protest to commemorate Palestinian lives lost in the recent violence. The assailant disagreed with the message of the protest.
  • This week, an SJP student from the University of Illinois Chicago received a death threat, warning SJP not to hold any more protests. Police and University officials have been notified. Meanwhile posters went up on the University of Chicago campus that read, “SJP Stabbing Jews for Peace,” a false and dangerous accusation. An SJP student at the University of Chicago was also harassed on Facebook. The University has been notified.
  • Over the past several weeks, police at the City University of New York arrested a student for protected speech, and prohibited other student activists from participating in public conversations.

These incidents represent just a few of the over 35 incidents of suppression that Palestine Legal responded to over the past 4 weeks. The pattern persists: with a rise in activism, comes a rise in suppression. Palestine Legal calls on university administrators to protect speech rights and to protect the physical safety of students who are at risk for voicing their views in favor of Palestinian rights.