Journalist Abby Martin Sues State of Georgia Over Israel Loyalty Oath

Martin lost speaking gig after refusing to sign contract pledging not to boycott Israel

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Journalist and filmmaker Abby Martin agreed to speak at a media conference that was set to take place at Georgia Southern University on February 28th. The university sent Martin a contract for the event that included a clause not to boycott Israel. Seeing it as a clear affront to her constitutional rights, Martin refused to sign, and the speech was canceled.

In response, Martin filed a lawsuit against the State of Georgia with the help of two civil rights groups, The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund.

In 2016, Georgia passed a law that prohibits the state from contracting with individuals or companies that boycott Israel. The legislation is an effort to thwart the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS is an international campaign that calls on people to pressure Israel over its human rights violations through various boycotts. Last month, South Dakota became the 28th US state to pass anti-BDS legislation.

The clause in the contract Martin was sent by the university read, "You certify that you are not currently engaged in, and agree for the duration of this agreement not to engage in, a boycott of Israel."

At a press conference on Monday, Martin Said, "My right to speak at a media conference at a public university was conditioned on my pledge to never participate in my constitutional right to engage in peaceful political action."

Much of Martin’s work is focused on the plight of the Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation. Martin’s recent film Gaza Fights for Freedom exposes Israeli war crimes committed against demonstrators during the Great March of Return protests in Gaza. The film advocates for BDS.

Besides being a journalist, Martin considers herself to be an activist who cares deeply about issues of injustice and civil rights. As Martin put it, "Situations of oppression, racism, and violations of international law that are funded by my tax dollars is something that I care very deeply about."

Dave DeCamp is assistant editor at Antiwar.com and a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn NY, focusing on US foreign policy and wars. He is on Twitter at @decampdave.

70 thoughts on “Journalist Abby Martin Sues State of Georgia Over Israel Loyalty Oath”

  1. Freedom of Speech, except when it comes to a certain group and certain issues.

    BDS was the correct thing to do to protest South Africa’s treatment of indigenous people.

    I wonder if anti-BDS law will ever come before the US Supreme Court. Gatekeepers.

  2. State sanctions are a form of economic terrorism. It is for this reason and this reason only that I don’t throw the full weight of my support behind BDS, who advocates state sanctions against the illegal state of Israel. Ironically, the growing proliferation of state anti-BDS bills are essentially another form of sanctions, sanctioning freedom of speech by barring any recipient of state funding from doing business with anyone who refuses to take what is tantamount to a loyalty oath to Israel. This is absurdly despicable and should be forcefully apposed by anyone who gives two fucks about free speech, regardless of BDS.

        1. I had/have a similar problem. To get to the comment section of an article I’m going to read I scroll down as quickly as possible and hit “CLICK TO DISCUSS” after the article appears. If I’m quick enough, the comment section appears. I noticed it only works if I do it before the “like” icon underneath the article comes on.

          1. When it was just comrade hermit, I was operating on the assumption that it had to do with her cache, cookies, VPN, whatever. Now that there are two people with a problem, I’ve asked our tech guys to look into it from our end and Disqus’s.

    1. What’s wrong with economic terrorism when it’s aimed at a terrorist State?.. Turnabout is fair play!

        1. You forfeit any moral authority you might have by doing business with such people. You actually become an accomplice to their crimes.

          1. Understatement of the century – this and last. 244 years and they still haven’t figured it out. I don’t personally believe that they ever will – in the current configuration.

    2. Yeah that’s not reality. BDS is not terrorism no matter how you cut it. It’s, at best, a slight annoyance to a very rigged economic system that is designed to enrich the funders and users of terrorism. To claim that not spending your money with those kinds of people is terrorism is ludicrous on its face. If you were female, you’d know that unless you go home-made, there’s no option for feminine hygiene products that don’t involve zionist money. The system is rigged. To call bucking that system terrorism is insulting.

      1. You misunderstand my point entirely. I never said BDS was in and of itself terrorism. I said that state sanctions, which BDS openly supports are a form of economic/class terrorism designed to punish the poor into supporting regime change. I fully support voluntary individual boycotts and divestment as a totally valid form of activism. But I cannot and will not support state sanctions of any kind.

        1. Please look up Teva Pharmaceuticals, then pick a personal intimate product upon which you depend, then look for an alternative source that is not connected to Zionism. Then we can talk about free choice and whether or not BDS is a terrorist movement for advocating sanctions. The modern nation state is funded by the corporations. Said nation state is also charged with regulating said corporations. How do you feel about the choices available to meet your involuntary needs now?

          1. yes, Teva is a great company.

            And you are also correct that Israeli innovation and entrepreneurs have offered so much to the world economy that mostly every one is benefiting from them without even knowing it.

        1. Your gender fluidity is your choice, however, biological menstruation is not. Women in the US and most of Europe cannot purchase tampons that do not directly fund zionism or that are not made in the west bank. This is a purely personal purchase that should in no way be political, but the lack of choice for ethical sources of basic human needs is the actual problem.

          Tell me how that’s supposed to work.

          You see it isn’t about punishing the poor, as they don’t have a stake in these corporations anyway.
          It’s about the freedom to make your own choices without being stepped on or having your choices artificially limited by government manipulation

          1. Ugh! I was so hoping not to have this discussion here so I’ll make it quick. My gender identity is not a choice. I tried to be male for over twenty years and it only made me want to kill myself. I don’t have a vagina. I don’t bleed that way. The current situation is despicable, but government intervention is not and never will be the solution. Boycott, don’t sanction. BOYCOTT! Say it with me now….

          2. You clearly described a CHOICE. Nobody put a gun to your head, nobody forced you to do anything. You CHOSE to change your biological gender.

            On the other hand, Zionists FORCE WOMEN TO FUND THEM. Women don’t get to choose.

            There. Do you understand the concept of choice now?

          3. Better than you understand gender identity. Nobody is forcing anybody to buy anything. Sanctions force people to not buy things. A choice they don’t need the state to make for them. Stop belittling women and using their misperceived victimhood to hide a shallow argument behind.

            The choice for me wasn’t my gender identity. I’ve always been a bulldyke in a boys body. My brain and my soul have always been this way. The choice for me was whether or not I was going to continue to hide it just because my body doesn’t match.

          4. My partner, who menstruates, is the person who brought the menstruation product issue to my attention after she spent over 20 hours researching products we use every day around the house to increase her personal support for BDS. Its not just tampons, its toothpaste, toilet paper, and band aids.

            Look up where your generic medication comes from, then try to trace the source ingredients. When you give up on that impossible task, look at who owns the patent / and / or funded the research for said drug.

            Tylenol is no more of a political purchase than a tampon, yet she feels violated by the fact that she is unable to follow her moral convictions when buying either one. Your personal identity is not the issue, our collective lack of choice is the issue.

          5. That’s an easy problem to solve. Get rid of intellectual property laws. They’re a violation of free speech anyway. Every state problem has a stateless solution and every supposed state solution simply further enslaves us. The greatest trick the state ever played was fooling us that we can’t exist without it. I’m an anarchist. I don’t buy into that line. It’s against everything I believe in. I’m also a committed anti-Zionist, our differences are mostly strategic in nature.

            I apologize for flying off the handle and making assumptions about your intentions. That was wrong. I just can’t stand when people tell me that my gender is a choice. I still have post-traumatic stress from spending my childhood in the closet, convinced that I was going burn in hell because I couldn’t make peace with my body. Denying this thing nearly killed me. Please believe me when I tell you it is not a choice.

          6. An interesting side note regarding states; did you know that despite the outwardly LGBT hostile appearance of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the government recognizes (and has for a long time) Gender Dysphoria as a valid medical condition and the state pays for gender re-assignment procedures and care. Just something to chew on.

          7. Very true and with the approval of the Ayatollah himself no less. Third genders have always had a presence in Persian culture. Persia’s successful historical resistance to cultural imperialism plays big part in this. Iran actually performs the second largest amount of confirmation surgeries after Thailand. The ironic thing I often joke about with Muslim and Persian friends is that Iran would pay for my surgery, then stone me for being a lezbo. One step forward, one step back, I guess.

          8. Yes,

            The Iranian “acceptance” of gender reassignment is really an offshoot of their out right hatred for people who are gay.

            It’s hardly a step forward. Rather it is a myopic method to further support their murder of gay people.

            It gives them an excuse — “they could have opted for surgery, so it’s their choice that we now throw them off a roof top”

          9. a) of course my view had zero to do with some sort of “ethnic malice”. Frankly, I’ve not heard of anyone having ethnic malice toward people from Iran specifically.

            b) Instead of calling me “ignorant” about Iranian law, perhaps you can show where my error was?

            This is what Wikipedia says — it may not be the best source, but do you have any contrary information?

            “In post-revolutionary Iran, any type of sexual activity outside a heterosexual marriage is forbidden. Same-sex sexual activities are punishable by imprisonment,[2] corporal punishment, or execution.”

            “Some human rights activists and opponents of the government in Iran claim between 4,000 and 6,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran for crimes related to their sexual orientation since 1979.[15][16] According to The Boroumand Foundation,[17] there are records of at least 107 executions with charges related to homosexuality between 1979 and 1990.[18] According to Amnesty International, at least 5 people convicted of “homosexual tendencies”, three men and two women, were executed in January 1990, as a result of the government’s policy of calling for the execution of those who “practice homosexuality”.[19]

            In a November 2007 meeting with his British counterpart, Iranian member of parliament Mohsen Yahyavi admitted that the government in Iran believes in the death penalty for homosexuality. According to Yahyavi, gays deserve to be tortured, executed, or both.[20]”

          10. I wasn’t “calling” you ignorant about Iranian law. I was noticing that you are ignorant about Iranian law.

            The same Wikipedia article you cite explains that under Iranian law, executions for e.g. homosexuality are done by hanging, not by throwing off of rooftops (later in the article, it does describe a rumor of some cleric ordering such things).

            I guess the alternative to you being ignorant of the subject is that you purposely went with the rumor rather than with the law because the former was more sensational. Not sure why you think that’s an improvement. Why isn’t it enough to point out that the Iranian regime executes those it accuses of homosexality?

          11. so my “ignorance” was on the mode that Iranian law uses to kill people for being gay.

            But I was otherwise correct.

            Ok. My use of the rooftop method was simply based on memory of news reports I have seen. You are correct that I never confirmed if those executions were done in a manner that Iranian law actually proscribes.

            not sure why you think it matters how they do it.

          12. no idea what you are talking about here.

            I have never justified wrongful conduct of Israel by the wrongful conduct of Iranians toward gay people.

            If you refer to Israel taking out Iranian attack bases in Syria, yes I think that is justified and not wrongful on Israel’s part. But not due to internal Iranian humanitarian rights violations. Due instead to Iran proceeding in its plan to destroy Israel by deploying attack bases near Israeli borders.

            its an entirely different topic.

          13. “I have never justified wrongful conduct of Israel by the wrongful conduct of Iranians toward gay people.”

            True, if by that you mean you’ve never admitted any wrongful conduct by Israel. I should have used the word “distract from,” not “justify.”

            Sorry, you don’t have any standing to lecture me on “inaccurate terminology” except to the extent that you’ve built the entirety of your worldview argument around using it.

          14. There’s a grain of truth there but you neglect the fact that third genders have been accepted in Persian culture since antiquity. The fact that the Mullahs have used this tradition to cover their homophobia doesn’t change the fact that it was one pre-Muslim Persian tradition they couldn’t afford to reform.

          15. the bottom line is that they throw gay people off roof tops. Trying in that context to present them as somehow progressive because they pay for sex change is very misplaced.

            If instead they returned to an ancient perspective that you say accepted gay people, that would be great. But it’s not that relevant because they have not maintained that at all.

            The only safe place in the Middle East for gay people is Israel.

          16. You don’t seem to get the difference between sexuality and gender identity. Perhaps you’re not as woke as you’ve convinced yourself you are. Iran is fine with transwomen as long as they’re hetero. That doesn’t make them progressive, it just proves that no culture is black and white.

          17. I totally get the difference and it just further makes my point.

            I agree with you that their approach is in no way “progressive” and in many ways horribly regressive when it comes to non-hetero people.

          18. True. Also true is that they murder gay people.

            So if you are Iranian and not heterosexual, you better opt for gender reassignment.

            Or – move to Israel and be safe and supported.

  3. I wish Abby Martin success in her fight for free speech which is under attack by the Jewish state of Israel and its minions in the US Congress and White House. Politicians from both parties would sell their own mothers and children to advance their own political careers. They think nothing of taking BILLIONS of dollars every year and giving them to the Jewish state of Israel, nor do they care about the lives of the people in America’s military. They gleefully sacrificed the limbs and lives of American military people in the Iraq War which was fought for Israel’s benefit. https://www.deism.com/neoconsbible.htm

    1. I, too, wish Abby Martin success in her fight for free speech. She was absolutely right not to sign the Israel Loyalty Oath, as doing so would be Treason. Loyalty oaths should be made to the US only, not to any foreign country – including Israel. Those officials in Georgia are certainly committing Treason by making teachers/professors sign the Israel Loyalty Oath.

      1. “Loyalty oaths should be made to the US only..”

        Loyalty oaths are an abomination – PERIOD – irrespective of which entity demands them! The only loyalty that any free person owes is to their personal conscience.

        1. “I, too, wish Abby Martin success in her fight for free speech. She was absolutely right not to sign the Israel Loyalty Oath, as doing so would be Treason.”

          State of Georgia Constitution
          Article 1 Section 1 Rights of persons
          Paragraph XIX: treason
          Treason against the State of Georgia shall consist of insurrection against the state, adhering to the state’s enemies, or giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason except on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act or confession in open court.

          Eileen Kuch may have a valid argument here but, once again, the typical ‘weasel words’ used in most constitutions to allow excessive latitude to State functionaries makes the interpretation ambiguous. Given the clear harm to America, of which Georgia is a part, that the rogue actions of the State of Israel subject this country and its people to, such an oath might indeed be considered ‘giving them aid and comfort’. It might also be a violation of Article 1 Section 1 Paragraph III Freedom of Conscience.

          1. not at all. It has zero to do with loyalty or lack thereof.

            It is a recognition that the State won’t contract with people involved in the boycott of Israel and a statement that you are not so involved. You don’t have to be “loyal” to anyone to agree not to boycott.

          2. True, you don’t have to REALLY believe in God to take communion.

            But requiring you to say you believe in God to contract with the state would be a religious loyalty oath, just like saying you won’t boycott Israel is a national loyalty oath.

          3. ? But here you don’t have to say anything at all about what you believe. You can believe that Jews control the world, or that Jews are all saints. All you are saying is that you won’t join in a specific method of demonizing Israel.

            You are not pledging or denying “loyalty” to anyone. And you are not pledging or denying any belief you may or may not have.

            I’m just saying it’s very misleading to refer to these laws as “loyalty oaths”. It may be catchy but it is not accurate at all, and plays somewhat in to bigoted tropes about Jews being “disloyal” etc if they support Israel.

          4. What does loyalty consist of?

            If I have to pledge to not refrain from buying stuff from X, I’m being required to pledge at least some level of loyalty — in this case economic loyalty — to X.

            The state shouldn’t GET to decide who else people must be willing to do business with as a condition of doing business with it.

          5. like i said, the use of “loyalty oath” is inaccurate and intentionally used because of the bigoted canard about Jewish lack of loyalty.

          6. I have no opinion on “Jewish loyalty” or lack thereof. Nor, for that matter, do I particularly identify Israel with Jews as such (or accord it special status because it claims to represent that particular ethno/religious group).

            An oath to not be disloyal is a loyalty oath. You don’t have to like it. It’s true whether you like it or not.

          7. great. so stop using the inaccurate terminology.

            it’s not an “oath to not be disloyal” — you can have zero loyalty to Israel and not support BDS.

  4. They have no problem STEALING part of my income despite my personal boycott of everything from that country. I wonder if I could file for tax exempt status?

  5. People need to boycott Georgia. They see they’re losing their tourism money and they’ll change their tune but quick.

  6. “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize” Voltaire.

    In today’s America if you dare to criticize Israel then prepare to suffer. The stranglehold that the Zionists hold over the USA is completely suffocating our freedoms and rights that were guaranteed under the US constitution. Our country has become a sad shadow of what our founding fathers envisioned for us.

    Wake up before its too late America!

    1. IMO, it’s already too late. My only saving grace is that I’m 70 and, hopefully, will pass before the SHTF.

  7. U.S. Sovereignty should be stressed, and no foreign nation should be influencing our leadership, political processes or our “Loyalty”. Israel is a sovereign nation. As such, they should be able to conduct their activities without U.S. funding or military forces.

  8. Does the State have the right to place the profits of foreign buisness concerns ahead of its citizens Right to protest those Foreign financials abuse towards their fellow humans?
    I find it quite an example of hipocracy by people within US who have killed millions, their embargo upon Iraq cost lives of 500,000 children and their war upon them kills and deforms over 30, 000 newborns a with depleted uranium in nations that never were as deadly a threat to their own peoples as what we, american citizens did to them.
    In the US we have names, names that we elected who then f- US over , and names of those who bribe our officials and we do what?
    Do we join together and boycott those persons?
    We hide behind party labes, conservative or liberal bigotry and religions who are most blood thirsty ba—-ds on earth, all members with names.
    UNTIL those names are recognized and held personally responsible any protest of boycotting their paymasters here and in their home nation is a fools errand.
    The government is not real, the people with names are, so why do we bring suit against a government title?
    What is the main downfall of those we call “Liberals”, could be they have no balls and are more interested in their ability as intellectualis bulls—-ing each other over who’s way is the best way, all without they themselves getting hands dirty, clothes rumpled , or loss of incomes.

  9. It will be interesting to see how the case plays out.

    It is definitely in a grey area because it is not forcing people not to join in BDS by for example making it illegal (which would clearly be a First Amendment violation).

    It is instead simply saying that the state won’t contract with people who join in BDS. These are not one and the same. It is not clear that a refusal to contract with people do to their repugnant ideas is the same as making it illegal as far as the First Amendment is concerned.

    It strikes me that a State entity should also be able not to contract with entities or people associated with the KKK. If so, that same right would allow them not to contract with BDS folk.

    It’s either that or that States are forced to contract with the KKK etc.

    1. In case law, the state has in fact been forced to contract with the KKK. For example, when they’ve sued to be allowed to participate in those “highway cleanup and you get a sign thanking your group” schemes.

      So far as I know, no US state has provisions requiring employees and contractors to promise that they won’t boycott any political entity except for Israel. You can boycott Nepal, or Nigeria, or Nicaragua. Just not Israel.

      1. apples and oranges: no one is boycotting Nepal or Nigeria, nor doing so as part of a bigoted enterprise.

        those KKK cases sound interesting – I will look at them

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