California bans criticism of Israel at Universities!
It is a sad day when the government starts cracking down on free speech like this. It is done in the name of protecting people from racism when, ironically, the criticism they are silencing is directed against the racist policies of the State of Israel!
I suspect that this legislation is something of a first. I’ve heard of laws that forbid you to criticize your own government (perhaps that’s the hallmark of a totalitarian regime) but this is the first time I’ve ever heard of a law that forbids you to criticize the policies of a foreign government!
The full text of the amended bill (HR 35) is below. It starts to read like a commendable prohibition against incitement to violence against Jewish people but then, lumped in alongside this, is the censuring of all criticism of the State of Israel’s domestic policies! According to the Bill it is now illegal to argue that “Israel is a racist, apartheid, or Nazi state, that Israel is guilty of heinous crimes against humanity such as ethnic cleansing and genocide.”
How is this possible? How can anyone enshrine in a law that Israel is not (and presumably never can be) a racist or apartheid state? I don’t know how people are supposed to engage in constructive discourse about the blatantly discriminatory actions of the Israeli government against the Palestinian people if the state has already been found innocent with out a trial! Extraordinary!
BILL NUMBER: HR 35 AMENDED BILL TEXT
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY AUGUST 23, 2012
INTRODUCED BY Assembly Members Halderman and Bonnie Lowenthal (Coauthors: Assembly Members Achadjian, Beall, Block, Blumenfield, Butler, Cook, Fong, Furutani, Galgiani, Gatto, Gordon, Hagman, Mansoor, Miller, Monning, Portantino, and Williams)
AUGUST 6, 2012
Relative to anti-Semitism.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST
HOUSE OR SENATE RESOLUTIONS DO NOT CONTAIN A DIGEST
WHEREAS, The frequency and severity of incidents of contemporary global anti-Semitism are increasing according to reports by representatives from nations around the world, including the United States Department of State in 2008, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in 2004, and the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism in 2009; and
WHEREAS, On July 20, 2009, the United States Senate unanimously approved a resolution that unequivocally condemns all forms of anti-Semitism and rejects attempts to rationalize anti-Jewish hatred or attacks as a justifiable expression of disaffection or frustration over political events in the Middle East or elsewhere, and decries the comparison of Jews to Nazis perpetrating the Holocaust or genocide as a pernicious form of anti-Semitism; and
WHEREAS, The United States Department of State, the United Kingdom’ s All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism , and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have adopted or endorsed the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ working definition of anti-Semitism, which notes that in context certain language or behavior demonizes and delegitimizes Israel or attacks Israel with classic anti-Semitic stereotypes, such as denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli police to that of the Nazis, and accusing the Jewish people, or Israel, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust; and
WHEREAS, The United States Commission on Civil Rights reported in 2006 that anti-Semitism exists on some college campuses and is often cloaked as criticism of Israel, and recommended that colleges and universities ensure that students are protected from actions that could create a hostile anti-Semitic environment; and
WHEREAS, Over the last decade some Jewish students on public postsecondary education institution campuses in California have experienced the following: (1) physical aggression, harassment, and intimidation by members of student or community groups in student-sponsored protests and rallies held on campus; (2) speakers, films, and exhibits sponsored by student, faculty, and community groups that engage in anti-Semitic discourse or use anti-Semitic imagery and language to falsely describe Israel, Zionists, and Jews, including that Israel is a racist, apartheid, or Nazi state, that Israel is guilty of heinous crimes against humanity such as ethnic cleansing and genocide, that the Jewish state should be destroyed, that violence against Jews is justified, that Jews exaggerate the Holocaust as a tool of Zionist propaganda, and that Jews in America wield excessive power over American foreign policy; (3) swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti in residential halls, public areas on campus, and Hillel houses; (4) student- and faculty-sponsored boycott, divestment, and sanction campaigns against Israel that are a means of demonizing Israel and seek to harm the Jewish state; (5) actions of student groups that encourage support for terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah and openly advocate terrorism against Israel and the Jewish people; and (6) suppression and disruption of free speech that present Israel’s point of view; and
WHEREAS, California public postsecondary educational institutions are admired throughout the world for their excellence and diversity, and it is important that they provide continued leadership in the fight against anti-Semitism; and
WHEREAS, While the response by California public postsecondary educational institutions to incidents of hate and intimidation, including anti-Semitism, with actions designed to make their campuses safer and more inclusive of diverse students, faculty, and staff have increased, the problem requires additional serious attention on both a campuswide and systemwide basis; and
WHEREAS, The Assembly commends the initial actions taken by the University of California (UC) to address anti-Semitism on its campuses such as: (1) refusal by the UC Board of Regents and the President of UC to consider divesture from companies doing business with Israel; (2) strengthening UC’s systemwide policies prohibiting student conduct motivated by bias, including religious bias; (3) implementation of a campus climate reporting system allowing any member of a UC campus community to report incidents of intolerance or bias and development of a comprehensive UC systemwide campus climate assessment; (4) the formation of an Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion whose members have conducted in-depth visits with Jewish students and groups on UC campuses to better understand their concerns and challenges and report back to the President of the UC; and (5) immediate statements by UC leaders strongly condemning specific acts of intolerance or bias when they occur; and
WHEREAS, The Assembly urges both the University of California and the California State University to take additional actions to confront anti-Semitism on its campuses, with due respect to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; and
WHEREAS, While these actions are important steps, strong leadership from the top remains an important priority so that no administrator, faculty, or student group can be in any doubt that anti-Semitic activity will not be tolerated in the classroom or on campus, and that no public resources will be allowed to be used for anti-Semitic or any intolerant agitation; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, That the Assembly unequivocally condemns all forms of intolerance, including anti-Semitism, on public postsecondary educational institution campuses in California; and be it further
Resolved, That the Assembly recognizes recent actions by officials of public postsecondary educational institutions in California and calls upon those institutions to increase their efforts to swiftly and unequivocally condemn acts of anti-Semitism on their campuses and to utilize existing resources, such as the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ working definition of anti-Semitism, to help guide campus discussion about, and promote, as appropriate, educational programs for combating anti-Semitism on their campuses; and be it further
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.