Zionist groups at University of California seek to repress critics of Israel
Zionist groups at the University of California have attempted to persuade the school to adopt the U.S. State Department’s guidelines of what constitutes anti-semitism. If adopted, the definition would smother pro-Palestinian activism on campus.
The primary concern with the state department guidelines is its ambiguity. To put it simply, it leaves room for nearly any statement against Israel or its policies and practices to be defined as hate speech. The guidelines are meant to apply a double standard for Israel.
Here is part of the U.S. State Department’s guideline that specifically pertains to Israel:
Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis
Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis
Blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions
DOUBLE STANDARD FOR ISRAEL:
Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation
Multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist
However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.
The guidelines also conflate Israel’s “right to exist” with the professed right of Jewish peoples right to self determination, making any sort of statement delegitimizing Israel or Zionism, anti-semitic.
Since the beginning of 2015, Palestine Legal has documented 60 incidents involving accusations of anti-semitism, and 24 incidents involving accusations of support for terrorism, both made against students or faculty, and both based solely on speech critical of Israeli policy. Accusations of this sort are not isolated incidents. It has become a vicious tactic to defame pro-Palestinian groups and activists.
This is not the first time in recent history that the University of California, specifically the UC Berkeley campus, is the center of a struggle against repression in favor of free speech. The University was the focal point of the Free Speech Movement of 1964-1965 in which groups and administrators cracked down on the ongoing political activism of the student body, particularly Civil Rights Activists and Anti War activists protesting the ongoing American involvement in the Vietnam War.
Though pro-Israel groups are not calling for disciplinary action, they are pushing to have the administration inform the broader faculty of how to label anti-semitism in line with the U.S. State Department’s guidelines.
The University of California including UC Berkeley and UCLA are the center of a debate over free speech and the fight against repression. As the call for similar actions to crack down on pro-Palestinian activism becomes increasingly common, the outcome of events at the University of California could prove to be the beginning of a broader attempt to silence pro-Palestinian activism and repress free speech pertaining to the criticism of Israel or its policies in universities across the country.