California State Assembly passes resolution equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism

Israel/PalestineUS Politics

School’s out, but that didn’t stop California’s state assembly from passing Resolution HR35 buttressing a controversial report commissioned by the University of California that accuses students and faculty of contributing to an environment fostering anti-Semitism on campus.

The report’s recommendations, which seek to limit criticism of Israeli state policies as a form of “hate speech”, have been criticized as an assault on academic freedom and an attempt to limit student and faculty’s first amendment rights to free speech.

There was no debate by lawmakers prior to approval, nor was Israel even mentioned during the introduction of the resolution.


An Assembly resolution urging California colleges and universities to squelch nascent anti-Semitism also encouraged educators to crack down on demonstrations against Israel, angering advocates for Muslim students.

With no debate, lawmakers on Tuesday approved a resolution that encourages university leaders to combat a wide array of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel actions.


The Assembly’s actions also drew criticism from free speech advocates. Carlos Villarreal, director of the San Francisco chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, called the resolution irresponsible and dangerous because it combines legitimate condemnations of acts of intimidation and hate with specific objections to tactics used to support the Palestinian people.

“In doing so, it can be seen as having no other purpose than to demonize all those who criticize the nation-state of Israel or support the rights of the Palestinian people,” he said.

Halderman did not mention Israel when she introduced HR35, which passed on a voice vote with 66 of the Assembly’s 80 members signing on as co-authors.

Some of the lawmakers who signed on as co-authors when the resolution was called on the floor seemed surprised to later learn of the references to Israel. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, was one of the few who did not support it.

Linda Halderman, R-Fresno, who co-wrote wrote the resolution, would seem to believe that Israel’s critics have fabricated facts regarding Israeli atrocities:

“California schools need to recognize that anti-Semitism is still a very real issue on college campuses,” said Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, R-Fresno, who wrote the resolution with Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach.

Among the examples Halderman cited was the annual Israel Apartheid Week held on many campuses, in which “students pretending to be Palestinians collapse as if they had been murdered en masse by Israeli Jews.”

A Palestinian woman sits on the rubble of a
building in Gaza City’s al-Zeitoun neighborhood.
(Photo: AFP)

In fact, the Israeli military has murdered Palestinian civilians en masse. Just ask Zinad Samouni, who lost a reported 48 family members in the Gaza slaughter of January 2009. But, according to Halderman, if you question Israel’s murder of them you are an anti-Semite.

The resolution invoked United States Commission on Civil Rights’ (USCCR) 2006 and the European Union’s working definition of anti-Semitism.

From the Al Jazeera article “The echo chamber of campus anti-Semitism“:

Although few people are aware of the United States Commission on Civil Rights’ (USCCR) 2006 findings about “campus anti-Semitism”, they have recently been invoked in a growing number of campaigns that threaten to curb students’ First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

The USCCR findings on this issue form part of an echo chamber whereby a network of partisan, Israel-aligned organisations and activists repeat the same claims, often unchallenged, before official bodies that simply take their word as truth.

Like walls in a cave, these bodies publish findings and resolutions regurgitating the partisans’ claims without exercising their own independent due diligence. Despite the apparent sound of many speakers, essentially one voice speaks. The rest, it turns out, are echoes.

The same process has just taken place in the California State Assembly, where House Resolution 35 was quietly rushed through the end of the legislative term and passed without sufficient discussion or debate. HR 35 characterises criticism of Israel as “cloaked” anti-Semitism and is meant to provide political cover to the University of California after widespread criticism of its campus climate reports. Although it creates no new law, HR 35 may embolden university administrators to curb students’ freedom of expression.

Predictably, HR 35 invokes the USCCR findings as evidence of campus anti-Semitism. But its reliance on the USCCR findings is misplaced. A careful review of the USSCR’s transcripts on campus anti-Semitism reveals a lacklustre record of one-sided testimony by only three individuals that rarely went challenged by commissioners.

Nevertheless, Israel-aligned advocates continue to rely on the findings as an authoritative source, presumably hoping to capitalise on the USCCR’s historic prestige and status as an official body. USCCR held its hearing on the matter on November 18, 2005; findings and recommendations were adopted on April 3, 2006; and a full briefing was published in May 2007.

Most shocking about the USCCR hearing is that it consisted exclusively of testimony from three speakers with political agendas. They were Susan Tuchman of the Zionist Organisation of America; Gary Tobin of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research; and Sarah Stern of the American Jewish Congress. All three of these organisations have a record of defending Israeli policies and attempting to silence or smear their critics.

Although Arab and Muslim students were implicitly blamed for the alleged rise of an anti-Semitic climate on campus, no speakers were invited from any Arab, Muslim or Palestinian community organisations. Nor were any student activists from the Muslim Student Association, Arab Student Association, or Students for Justice in Palestine invited to speak, despite the accusations implicitly levelled in their direction. Progressive Jewish organisations were also excluded from testifying, notwithstanding a blog posting by Jewish Voice for Peace reacting to the published report after the fact.

Fortunately, the UC is currently not supporting the proposed resolution because it violates the first amendment, and criticism of the report keeps mounting. After more than 2,200 students, faculty and alumni signed a petition opposing the UC report, President Mark Yudof appears to have distanced himself from the report’s recommendation, a welcome improvement from UC’s recent shameful record of censorship.

The text of the Resolution HR35 is available here.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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37 Responses

  1. Ranjit Suresh
    August 29, 2012, 5:11 pm

    To be frank, this is why we should be opposed to hate speech laws. In fact, we should go ahead and remove this Orwellian phrase from the English vernacular.

    By infringing upon free speech rights and the First Amendment, even in the name of anti-racism or anti-homophobia, hate speech laws simply pave the way for criminalizing unpopular or anti-establishment political positions.

    “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.” – John Stuart Mill.

    • American
      August 29, 2012, 7:03 pm

      Censorship don’t do much to halt the spread of hate.

      White Terrorist Plot to Assassinate the ‘Commander in Chief’
      Posted on 08/28/2012 by Juan
      A white terrorist cell on a military base in Georgia plotted to assassinate President Barack Obama and stage a military coup. It murdered two former members of the cell. It bought $87,000 of military grade weaponry and land in Washington state. It planned to bomb a dam in Washington and poison its apple crop. It planned to take over Fort Stewart in Georgia.”

    • HRK
      August 30, 2012, 9:57 am

      I’m totally opposed to hate speech laws. And I view the move by the ADL to step into the anti-bullying movement as ominous–we all know where they’re going to try to take that one. . . .

  2. justicewillprevail
    August 29, 2012, 5:27 pm

    So criticism of Izrael is ‘anti-semitism’, but calling Arabs ‘savages’ is exercising your freedom of speech and First Amendment rights. In the same state. Go figure. Hypocrisy. Another capitulation to the Izrael Thought Police who are terrified of open debate and examination of their actions.

  3. Annie Robbins
    August 29, 2012, 5:29 pm

    i’m so relieved, things in california are deteriorating swiftly.

    Recent polling revealed 50% of students in California schools oppose equal rights for Jews. Nearly half of California’s high school students do not believe that Jews are entitled to the same rights as the rest of Americans, according to the results of a new survey released yesterday. The same poll revealed that more than half the students would deny Jews the right to be elected to Congress.

    “California youth have not internalized basic democratic values,” The results paint a picture of youth leaning toward political philosophies that fall outside the mainstream.

    In response to the question of whether Jewish citizens should be granted rights equal to that of non Jews, 49.5 percent answered in the negative. The issue highlighted the deep fault lines separating religious and secular youths, with 82 percent of religious students saying they opposed equal rights for jews while just 39 percent of secular students echoed that sentiment.

    just 39 percent of secular students echoed that sentiment? well thank goodness for small miracles! source:

    i wonder if Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, R-Fresno,and Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach are aware of these little factoids? maybe they should be suggesting legislation for the knesset.

    • Krauss
      August 29, 2012, 5:48 pm

      Annie, you’re not one of those anti-Californian bigots are you?
      A 5th column among our pro-Californian midst working to undermine us from within. A self-hater, you know. An apologist for our enemies.

      • piotr
        August 29, 2012, 6:37 pm

        Perhaps Annie means well but she is OBJECTIVELY anti-Californian. And her collaboration with a hostile East Coast web site speaks volumes.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 29, 2012, 6:41 pm

        omg, a self h*ting californian!

      • Blake
        August 29, 2012, 6:59 pm

        Annie, do you have a link to that Californian poll? Also, anti Israel sentiment is not really being anti semitic. I am sure you would agree.

      • Sumud
        August 30, 2012, 11:15 am

        Click on the link in Annie’s comment Blake, and read it compared to Annie’s comment. She gotcha!

      • Blake
        August 30, 2012, 2:09 pm

        Lol. Thanks.

    • Hostage
      August 30, 2012, 7:57 pm

      The Jerusalem Post report noted that

      A University of California spokesman told the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday that it would not support the resolution, saying that it violates the First Amendment.

      See “University of Cali rejects anti-Semitism resolution”

      The US Civil Rights Commission definition contains several exceptions that Zionists simply ignore. A Federal Judge tossed out a lawsuit against UC Berkeley based on the theory saying that the alleged harassment constituted protected political speech. — See Judge Dismisses Claim That UC-Berkeley Fostered Anti-Semitism link to

  4. American
    August 29, 2012, 5:47 pm

    ”Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, R-Fresno, who wrote the resolution with Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach.”

    Three words…Go f’ yourselves
    The more you do this crap the more people will talk, never mind even more anti Israle attitudes, there will be more anti Jewish attitudes.
    Besides, all the anti Israel or pro peace student activist will do is move their events off campus where the university has no jurisdiction and where it will be noticed in the more general public.

  5. Amjad Faur
    August 29, 2012, 6:28 pm

    To paraphrase an observation by Robert Fisk, these kinds of accusations and actions will only serve to give anti-semitism a good name and utterly cheapen real anti-semitism.

    • Ranjit Suresh
      August 29, 2012, 7:14 pm

      Well, maybe we’ve been worrying about real anti-semitism long after it’s sell date.

      To wit, anti-Chinese racism was extraordinarily virulent in 19th century and early 20th century California. There were more lynchings of Chinese in the state than of Jews in all of American history. Now? Anti-Chinese racism basically irrelevant. Anti-semitism in California is not just basically, but absolutely irrelevant.

      • American
        August 30, 2012, 12:42 pm

        Ranjit Suresh says:

        Well, maybe we’ve been worrying about real anti-semitism long after it’s sell date.”>>>>>>>>

        It’s sell by date expired…that’s why they are re packaging it. And adding the Israel preserative to the ingredients.

  6. mijj
    August 29, 2012, 7:46 pm

    the meaning of “anti-semitism” is morphing into “the exposing of embarrassing truths”.

  7. dbroncos
    August 29, 2012, 8:28 pm

    Two American taboos on a collision course: Criticizing Zionism/Zionists and squashing free speech. This is where Israel firsters start to step out from behind the policians and media outlets, who dutifully protect Zionists at any cost, and expose themselves to the rest of America in a battle with the US Constitution that they will ultimately lose. This will cast Zionists as enemies of free speech and that’s more bad news for Israel. HR35 is a bad strategy for Zionists. It’s as farcical as it is outragious. I can’t wait to see the first “hate speech” case thrown out of a California courtroom, hopefully with a made for hollywood press conference. Or better yet, the spectacle/circus of jail time for some fresh faced college students who are persuing the cause of freedom in I/P. How about a splashy lawsuit against UC… for unlawful expulsion – Jane Doe’s Daddy pays good money to send his daughter to this school and she was expelled for WHAT? This story has a bright future ahead of it. Let the games begin!

    • American
      August 30, 2012, 12:37 pm

      I wish a Israel censorship case it would get pushed as far as the US Supreme court as a freedom of speech issue.
      Least we would have no doubt how far gone or not the US is..
      I can imagine a headline that says US Supreme Court rules criticism of the country of Israel is anti semitic and illegal.

  8. Sin Nombre
    August 29, 2012, 9:35 pm

    Amjad Faur wrote:

    “[this kind of thing] will only serve to give anti-semitism a good name and utterly cheapen real anti-semitism.”

    No it won’t. It will serve as an incredibly real, right-in-your-face-starting-tomorrow threat to all kinds of people—especially public employees such as teachers, professors, and etc. but also private employees whose employers follow the gov’t in such things—to shut the fuck up ever making any statements about Israel that might be construed as critical, due to their already certain knowledge that they can and will almost certainly be fired or otherwise officially harmed by violating speech codes masquerading as “anti-discrimination” codes and etc., with this State resolution now providing specific authority backing the idea that criticism of Israel does indeed equal such a violation.

    So now, all you Progressive Lefties, you proud of all your “anti-hate speech” and “anti-discrimination” and “hostile environment” codes and regulations and laws and employee regulations and etc., huh? I.e., all the sneaky ways you tried to squash the freedom of speech?

    Gee, what a surprise. I mean, you guys were obviously just soo much smarter than the Framers of the First Amendment. You just *knew* what nobody should ever be able to say or be able to hear because your ethics are just sooo fine and certain.

    So … go get a job now, say especially in government, especially now in California or New York say, and especially say in one of their colleges teaching but indeed in damn near any capacity, and go be heard sounding off against Israel. And see just how fast your ass is gonna be hauled up on charges of using hate speech/uttering racist comments and/or etc.

    And then go feel what you’ve inflicted on others so happily so that … for people in such circumstances to save their jobs in the face of such accusations, they are made to grovel and apologize and undergo “sensitivity” training and therapy and classes and accept reprimands and demotions and the curtailment of any further career advancement and on and on.

    Gee, how pretty.

    And all because you found a way, instead of *advancing* the wisdom of the First Amendment, of denigrating and subverting it instead, of imposing your speech codes and etc. as employees regs or contractual matters instead of as laws, or as as private employer codes and etc., etc. and on and on, trying to muzzle as many people as possible.

    How perfect.

  9. chris o
    August 30, 2012, 12:17 am

    I guess I just have to raise my hand already and say,”Okay, then I’m an anti-Semite.” If this is the epithet applied to me for being critical of Israel, and it IS repeatedly applied to me for that reason, then I just have to say OK. Like the n-word, etc., “queer”, etc., the word will have to be reclaimed or at least officially rendered meaningless. Because it has become a meaningless slur intended to silence criticism of Israel.

  10. Taxi
    August 30, 2012, 12:32 am

    Oh to be forced to kneel before the Golden Calf with stapled mouths.

    Thank you for your superb Americanism all yea israeli-firsters in California. And of course, thank you all yea zionist jews writing America’s laws for the benefit of Apartheid israel.

    • SQ Debris
      June 30, 2015, 2:33 pm

      Stapled mouths and wide open wallets, Taxi. This resolution is perfect. No dissing the number one recipient of U.S. taxpayer dollars, number one recipient of U.S. weapons, and all time record holder for recipient of U.S. vetoes in the U.N. Security Counsel. Why would Americans ever have anything to say about that nation? Just shut up and shuck bux. Or you’ll lose the ability to feed yourself. Now that’s democracy!

  11. radii
    August 30, 2012, 12:46 am

    controller-parasite israel and their Fifth Column functionaries here in the U.S. made CA legislature feel the tightening of the tail around their neck (think of the face-hugger from Alien) and they thus complied

  12. DICKERSON3870
    August 30, 2012, 1:39 am

    RE: “An Assembly resolution urging California colleges and universities to squelch nascent anti-Semitism also encouraged educators to crack down on demonstrations against Israel. . . With no debate, lawmakers on Tuesday approved a resolution that encourages university leaders to combat a wide array of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel actions.” ~ AP

    ALSO SEE: “The Trial of Israel’s Campus Critics”, by David Theo Goldberg and Saree Makdisi, Tikkun Magazine, September/October 2009

    [EXCERPT]. . . It is an extraordinary fact that no fewer than thirty-three distinct organizations – including AIPAC, the Zionist Organization of America, the American Jewish Congress, and the Jewish National Fund – are gathered together today as members or affiliates of the Israel on Campus Coalition. The coalition is an overwhelmingly powerful presence on American college campuses for which there is simply no equivalent on the Palestinian or Arab side. Its self-proclaimed mission is not merely to monitor our colleges and universities. That, after all, is the commitment of Campus Watch, which was started by pro-Israel activists in 2002. It is, rather (and in its own words), to generate “a pro-active, pro-Israel agenda on campus.”
    There is, accordingly, disproportionate and unbalanced intervention on campuses across the country by a coalition of well-funded organizations, who have no time for — and even less interest in — the niceties of intellectual exchange and academic process. Insinuation, accusation, and defamation have become the weapons of first resort to respond to argument and criticism directed at Israeli policies. As far as these outside pressure groups (and their campus representatives) are concerned, the intellectual and academic price that the scholarly community pays as a result of this kind of intervention amounts to little more than collateral damage. . .


    • American
      August 30, 2012, 12:28 pm

      Let us count the ways censorship works.

      Opposition to Hitler

      Why wasn’t there a lot of opposition to Hitler?
      Many Germans lived in fear of the SS who could destroy peoples lives. As a result they were afraid to speak out. This fear of the SS along with censorship also prevented opposition from becoming organised.

      Such censorship also meant that people didn’t know exactly what the Nazis were doing and what their plans were. The Nazi’s for example didn’t advertise that they intended to kill millions of Jews. If people did oppose Hitler, they often said nothing. The opposition that did exist, mainly unionists, communists and socialists along with people from the ethnic minorities couldn’t get along with each other. Whilst they all had reasons to distrust or even hate Hitler, they had much the same distrust or hatred for other opposition groups. This meant that Hitler’s henchmen could play these groups off against one another and keep them as tiny, underground organisations with no mass support.”

      An editorial law enabling Nazi censorship (1933)

      In October 1933, Hitler’s government passed an ‘editorial law’, enabling Nazi censorship of press and publications:

      Section One
      Involvement in the shaping of the intellectual contents of the newspapers or political periodicals published in the Reich, whether through writing, news reporting, or illustration, or through appointment as chief editor, is a public function, regulated by the state through this law…

      Censorship in Nazi Germany
      Censorship was rampant throughout Nazi Germany. Censorship ensured that Germans could only see what the Nazi hierarchywanted people to see, hear what they wanted them to hear and read only what the Nazis deemed acceptable. The Nazi police dealt with anyone who went outside of these boundaries. Censorship dominated the lives of the ordinary citizen in Nazi Germany.

      Once they succeeded in ending democracy and turning Germany into a one-party dictatorship, the Nazis orchestrated a massive propaganda campaign to win the loyalty and cooperation of Germans. The Nazi Propaganda Ministry, directed by Dr. Joseph Goebbels, took control of all forms of communication in Germany: newspapers, magazines, books, public meetings, and rallies, art, music, movies, and radio. Viewpoints in any way threatening to Nazi beliefs or to the regime were censored or eliminated from all media.

      As World War II commenced and the German stronghold spread throughout the European continent, censorship was also implemented in the occupied nations. All national newspapers, radios, and publishers were taken over or shut down completely upon the Nazis’ arrival, and listening to foreign radio or disseminating illegal newspapers could be punishable by death. Despite the strict censorship, however, the illegal press continued to flourish in many occupied nations, making a firm stand against the brainwashing and cultural oblivion that Nazi censorship desired.

      Censorship was also a key weapon used by the Apartheid regime of South Africa, which governed the nation from 1950 to 1994 (Coetzee 1996). Fueled by a policy of extreme racism, Apartheid leaders strictly censored any materials supporting the African National Congress (ANC), an anti-Apartheid liberation movement. The censorship affected all aspects of society, culture, and education, with censored items ranging from newspapers and pamphlets to T-shirts, buttons, and lighters that supported the ANC. Violators of the censorship policies were often tortured and even executed, but the ANC struggled relentlessly against Apartheid censorship until the end of the Apartheid regime in 1994 (ibid).

  13. Taxi
    August 30, 2012, 4:20 am

    Okay let’s get this straight:
    In America it is allowed to demonize ANY American president anytime, anywhere with anyone – but it’s FORBIDDEN to “criticize” the Apartheid policies of a foreign country?

    • Annie Robbins
      August 30, 2012, 11:29 am

      In America it is allowed to demonize ANY American president anytime, anywhere with anyone – but it’s FORBIDDEN to “criticize” the Apartheid policies of a foreign country?

      no no no, just israel. don’t get your panties in a twist taxi, it’s not a complete gutting of the first amendment. it only seeks to pave a path to criminalize criticism of israel. just one little itty itty apartheid state. get over it already!

      • Taxi
        August 30, 2012, 11:56 am

        You’re right, annie – I shoulda named the devil that be. And what an exceptional devil it is.

  14. piotr
    August 30, 2012, 7:48 am

    “New Anti-Semitism” is definitely nothing to be ashamed of. Concerning the Assembly resolution, what I have seen is rather non-specific. And someone should do something about hyphenation, perhaps an Assembly committee should resolve it.

  15. Kate
    August 30, 2012, 10:47 am

    I’m amazed that not everybody got that Annie was referring to Israeli prejudice, not Californian, in her post above: “Recent polling revealed 50% of students in California schools oppose equal rights for Jews.” Could anyone seriously believe that a California poll could produce such results?

    If they had followed the link she provided to the Haaretz article, they would have seen that Annie used information there and substituted ‘California’ for ‘Israel’ and ‘Jews’ for ‘Arabs’ (Palestinians)

    Poll: Half of Israeli high schoolers oppose equal rights for Arabs … In response to the question of whether Arab citizens should be granted rights equal to that of Jews, 49.5 percent answered in the negative…

  16. dbroncos
    August 30, 2012, 6:48 pm

    There is huge silver lining potential in HR35. Prosecutors will have to explain how criticising Israeli fascism and apartheid is “hate speech”. They’ll have to explain who are its victims and how they’ve been victimized. They’ll have to explain which specific words or phrases are “hateful” and what material damage has been done by these words. Just because it’s been made illegal doesn’t mean there will be one single conviction.

    This is a golden opportunity for students and professors in California to stand up and be counted and also be noticed by a wider audience than ever before. NOW is the time to accelerate and intensify criticism of Israel. Jam pack the courts with “hate speech” cases. The trap they set for the “anti-Semites” will instead snap around the ankles of Israel Firsters.

    • Sin Nombre
      August 31, 2012, 4:07 am

      dbroncos wrote:

      “There is huge silver lining potential in HR35. Prosecutors will have to explain how criticising Israeli fascism and apartheid is ‘hate speech’…”

      No, as I somewhat alluded to earlier, this misapprehends the nature and potential of this Resolution, although I’ve now read that due to some folks in California’s universities who still recognize the idea of free speech some of the lawmakers involved are promising to “fix” the Resolution during the next legislative session.

      Standing alone as it now does technically the nature of the Resolution is symbolic only: That is, it doesn’t purport to create a crime out of criticizing Israel. Thus, no, you won’t see prosecutors having to explain same.

      The problem really lies in the potential for this meme now being added to all the others that exist in all different sorts of contexts where it’s either impossible to challenge, or where it’s hugely effective given how hugely difficult it is to challenge it.

      For instance, in general if you work for a private employer you don’t have the right to challenge what codes of speech or other conduct they might impose, unless those codes themselves discriminate against you in some narrowly protected way due to your race, color, creed or etc. But there’s no protection for your freedom of speech vis a vis your private employer: The constitution just limits the government, and there’s damn few if any legislative laws saying that private employers have to let their employees have this or that free speech right. So for instance you go ahead as an employee of damn near any company and start mouthing off about, say, how you think women are inferior to men and see what happens. See how far you get arguing your First Amendment rights … because you have none there. And to whatever extent it even needs to—and it usually doesn’t a bit—your employer can say it is imposing such a code on you to protect itself from discrimination suits, or from adverse customer reactions, and etc. and so forth.

      So you’ll have *no* “prosecutors” nor indeed anyone else even needing to defend this meme in this vast context of private employment, and indeed *most* of the sort of privately prohibited talk has become privately prohibited not *even* due to anything as grand as an entire legislature’s imprimatur, but instead due to some far less authoritative source, if indeed from any authoritative source at all.

      And then you have the public sector of employment, and while indeed because the employer there is the government and has to respect the First Amendment, as an employer it has far greater rights over you than it does, say, in trying to regulate your speech if you are just a citizen. And then you get into The Choice: You, along with tens if not hundreds of thousands of other governmental employees, feel this impinges on your free speech rights. Well okay, but are you so certain of same, and this it will be so clearly held to same in the precise context you wish to try to tempt its fate, that you are going to bet your career on it? Or even endanger it a little?

      Nuts, say you are a professor for a state college, and you are the sort who just normally and naturally interject your own strong feelings about things into your teaching, even if you announce right at the start that you do so but they are only your opinions.

      So here you want to talk about … colonization, for instance. Well you may well believe that just saying “I hereby criticize Israel for being a colonizing power” is going to be found your right when one of your students later accuses you of using “hate/discriminatory speech” to create a “hostile environment” for learning.

      But first of all you gotta risk that you are right and that your university is going to stand up for you and pay your bills when that investigation and etc. comes down.

      But who talks in such one-sentence ways? So of course in talking about “colonization” and Israel you go a little further in criticizing Israel, as give-and-take and talking are wont to do, and you fail to name other colonizers, and etc. and so forth.

      And *now* you’ve *really* given your Israeli-partisan students or others a chance. Because with that simple backing of a vaunted *legislative* finding that anti-Israel criticism is racism, well my God now you get into *all* of what you’ve said, and then what you *didn’t* say so that now maybe the “lesser” charge is that you’ve accused not *just* the State of Israel of wrongdoing but all or most *Israelis* of same and my God of *course* that’s anti-semitic and racist and discriminatory … and good luck getting your university defending you now: In fact it’s likely *they* are gonna be the ones prosecuting you to get you fired or admonished.

      And while it’s true that now you *can* bring the First Amendment up to a limited Employer/Employee degree, it’s *you* who have to find a pay a lawyer to go fighting the resources of the state/university, month after month and maybe longer. All the while your job hangs in the balance.

      So okay, you think, I’m willing to go anyway and speak out and all that happens and you win and your lawyer’s fees are paid. And still you sit knowing that anytime you open your mouth again, yet another accusation can be made, adding credence to the idea that you are a racist, and putting you through all this again.

      Frankly, at this stage I don’t *think* this meme is gonna get going to do this kind of thing in the immediate future. But don’t for a second believe that the idea has now been missed by Israeli partisans, and won’t be massaged a bit this way or that to make it seem less objectionable, and pushed in other legislatures or university rules committees, or just in making the allegation in individual charges of racism/discrimination and etc., and so forth and so on. It took awhile for the “hostile environment” idea become a fixture in anti-discrimination law, but boy once it got a foothold it took off and is now there with a vengeance.

      First there’s the rough germ of the idea making its way into the head of officialdom, and from there it’s pushed and pushed and grows like topsy and suddenly it’s nothing less than the status quo fixture, never once to be authoritatively challenged because it’s so large and so multi-variant and used in so many contexts.

      No “golden opportunity” here then, except for Israeli partisans, who are not exactly known for their lack of zeal. You just watch.

      • Hostage
        August 31, 2012, 10:35 am

        For instance, in general if you work for a private employer you don’t have the right to challenge what codes of speech or other conduct they might impose, unless those codes themselves discriminate against you in some narrowly protected way due to your race, color, creed or etc.

        You forgot to list religion. Zionists aren’t the only ones that have one of those, and they are a federally protected characteristic:

        Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. The law protects not only people who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs.

        — EEOC Religious Discrimination

        See also the very long list of EEOC lawsuits resulting from workplace harassment at “EEOC lawsuits alleging Religious and National Origin Discrimination involving the Muslim, Sikh, Arab, Middle Eastern and South Asian Communities (as of September 1, 2011)

        The official origin of these efforts to redefine campus anti-Semitism began with a former Jewish Director of the US Civil Rights Commission. He was forced to pursue the complaints as cases of “ethnic discrimination”, since it’s illegal for either the government or your employer to discriminate against you if you object to Israel or its policies on the basis of your firmly held religious beliefs. Torcaso v. Watkins (1961) established that the government can’t constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid religions against non-believers. So attempts by university officials to outlaw religious beliefs or speech protected by the 1st Amendment is a complete non-starter.

        The members of any number of “religious groups” or groups with strong moral convictions would still be free to criticize Israel and Zionism, including Atheists, Muslims, Neturei Karta, Humanistic Judaism, Quakers, Presbyterians, Methodists, Buddhists, & Pacifists.

  17. dbroncos
    August 31, 2012, 8:55 pm

    Sin Nombre,

    The work place does operate under its own set of rules, good point. However, there are many more student activists than there are professors and students aren’t employees, they’re paying customers. Colleges won’t be able to silence them as easily or effectively as they would a professor under threat of losing his/her job. Also there is a serious PR gamble attached to trying to silence professors and students alike such that any college administration that tries to label as “hate speech” terms like “peace and justice”, “equity”, “freedom” etc. runs the risk of painting themselves as partisan idealoges on a witch hunt and who don’t believe in free speech. This would be bad news for the reputaion of a college and bad for its business.

    In any case, the “legislature’s imprimatur” will end up in the courts sooner rather than later if it is cited to punish employees or students. If the defense attorney is worth his/her salt they’ll waste no time exposing to judge and jury the real issue: silencing Israel’s critics.

    Even if questioning Zionism and Israel’s policies isn’t exactly illegal there is a reason Zionists wanted the lawmakers stamp on this “recommendation” rather than just the stamp of school administrators. I’m convinced this issue is heading for the courts because thats where Zionist want to take this battle.

  18. Hostage
    September 1, 2012, 8:29 am

    I’m convinced this issue is heading for the courts because thats where Zionist want to take this battle.

    Anti-Semitic harassment suit at UC Berkeley is dismissed


    A federal court dismissed a lawsuit filed by two Jewish students against the University of California, Berkeley, alleging that the school did not protect them from anti-Semitic attacks.

    U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg ruled late last week that there was no evidence that university officials violated the Jewish students’ rights, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

    The plaintiffs said that they and other Jews were harassed during the annual Apartheid Week event at the university held by Muslim student groups to protest Israeli policies. Seeborg ruled that the conduct of the Muslim students fell under the category of “pure political speech,” which is constitutionally protected, according to the newspaper.

    The complaint alleged that the Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Student Association, another pro-Palestinian group on campus, harass and attack Jewish students, and that the university knows about it and has not taken sufficient steps to protect its Jewish students.

    The complaint further charged that university officials have tolerated “the growing cancer of a dangerous anti-Semitic climate on its campuses” that violates the rights of Jewish and other students “to enjoy a peaceful campus environment free from threats and intimidation.”

    The suit called for damages and a jury trial.

  19. dbroncos
    September 1, 2012, 9:45 am

    Exactly. Thanks, Hostage.

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