Via, Mondoweiss, a new resolution passed by the California State Assembly attempts to limit criticism of Israeli policy on college campuses by equating it with anti-Semitic hate speech. The law urges “California colleges and universities to squelch nascent anti-Semitism” and “encourages university leaders to combat a wide array of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel actions,” according to the Associated Press.
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.
Typically, those who want to suppress free speech criticisms of Israeli crimes are relegated to the tools of social ostracism or return criticism – you know, because of that First Amendment thing. The cry of anti-Semitism has been successful in this respect, unfortunately. This bill, by contrast, attempts to codify into law an obligation to “squelch” activism and speech objecting to Israeli government actions. Read the text of the resolution here. Fortunately, growing criticism of the bill has led the University of California to refuse to support it.