PSLS Urges Senate Education Committee to Amend Resolution, Avoid Mischaracterizing Criticism of Israel as Anti-Semitism
On Thursday, PSLS, along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the National Lawyers Guild-Los-Angeles, sent a letter to the California Senate Education Committee urging them to amend a proposed resolution that perpetuates the conflation of criticism of Israeli policies with acts of anti-Semitism. The resolution, Senate Concurrent Resolution 35 (SCR 35), is directed at California’s public universities, where student activism is routinely mischaracterized as anti-Semitic because it criticizes Israeli policy in violation of Palestinian human rights.
The letter requests that the Resolution be amended so that it may not be used as a tool to stifle speech favoring Palestinian rights. The letter states:
SCR 35 fails to distinguish between constitutionally protected political speech and unlawful acts; and it perpetuates a mischaracterization of critiques of Israeli policies as anti-Semitic. We are concerned that the legislation as written can be used to stifle political expression. Moreover, the resolution’s vague language and reference to an over-broad definition of anti-Semitism serve to trivialize instances of actual hatred, making them harder to recognize and confront.
The letter also describes the important context of repression:
This strategy of conflating speech critical of Israel with anti-Semitism and thereby inflating its prevalence has resulted in an alarming increase in false accusations of anti-Semitism as an instrument to thwart serious discussions about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.