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.