CA Senate Cautioned Not to Stifle Campus Speech

  California’s State Capitol Building (Alex Proimos-Flickr)

California’s State Capitol Building (Alex Proimos-Flickr)

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.

To read the full letter, click here.  Find out how you can take action here.