The support for Israeli expansionism, repression, the whole alliance that’s developing, that support has shifted in the United States from people who identify themselves as Democrats by now tend to support Palestinian rights more than Israel. That’s a dramatic change. Support for Israel now is in the most reactionary parts of the population: evangelical Christians, ultranationalists. Basically, it’s a far-right issue. Among younger people, this is even more the case.
They were at it again in Amherst, Mass the same tribalists who pop up and smear anybody who dares speak about Palestinian rights—it could be Toronto, London, England or in this case a university campus the ugly faces of the Zionist thought police attempt to mute and discredit the voices of justice in Palestine. Here a pathetic law suit, hate mail and slurs of all kinds, desperate attempts to short circuit free speech, righteous speech about human rights. In this case like in many other cases, it did not work.
In Western Massachusetts, a judge ruled May 2 a panel on Palestinian rights could move forward. “Not Backing Down: Israel, Free Speech, and the Battle for Palestinian Human Rights.” That’s the title of the event place Saturday May 4 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Three anonymous UMass students filed a lawsuit to stop the event, claiming they will, quote, “suffer irreparable harm” if it takes place.
But Judge Robert Ullmann ruled the event could proceed, saying, quote, “There’s nothing that comes even close to a threat of harm or incitement to violence or lawlessness,” he said. Meanwhile, the university backed the event despite the protests, saying it’s committed to the principles of free speech and academic freedom.
As for irreparable harm, who are these people fooling. the only harm in the end is to Jews who conflate the great religion Judaism with the settler colonial movement called Zionism.
The event was co-sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace. whose rep Rachel Weber challenged the false premise that criticism of Israel is somehow inherently antisemitic. We have every right to criticize Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. As members of JVP, and as Jews, we stand in solidarity with the event and with the panelists.”
So, to say that all Jews feel that Israel—the Israeli government speaks for them is inaccurate, and it’s incredibly offensive. I have an absolute obligation to protest injustices that are happening in my name, both as a Jew and as an American, given the amount of aid and military resources that this country gives to Israel. It’s actually quite offensive to say that I would support anything Israel does. And there’s a growing voice in this country and around the world of Jews saying Israel does not speak for us, and we have to speak up against the human rights abuses that are happening against Palestinians.
Other panelists included Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill, fired from CNN for speaking up for Palestinian rights.
Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters, co-founder of the group Pink Floyd. Vijay Prashad the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and Dave Zirin, columnist for the nation magazine.The event was organized by Sut Jhally, professor of communication at the University of Massachusetts
In an interview Jhally spelled out the desperation of the Zionist thought police
“It was an act of intimidation and bullying for the next one, to tell people, “If you start to think about organizing events around this or start speaking out about this, this is what’s going to come down on you.”
It’s been a firestorm of criticism since we announced the panel. I know that the chancellor and the administration have received scores of telephone calls protesting the event. The Massachusetts Republican Party has protested the event and wants it to be canceled. There was a letter written by 80 organizations, 80 right-wing organizations, demanding that the event be canceled and that the university disassociate itself from anything to do with the event. And, of course, as you just mentioned, there was this lawsuit that was filed by this right-wing organization on this spurious notion that somehow talking about Israel-Palestine was going to cause harm to Jewish students.
This was organized by group called Americans for Peace and Prosperity, a right-wing, really hate-filled group of reactionaries and bigots who found some students at UMass to kind of front the injunction. But this is not—this is not a suit that’s been brought by the students. This is a suit that has been brought by an external organization trying to shut down any kind of critical speech around Israel-Palestine.
UMass did what many universities have failed to do stand strong against the denial of free speech
Roger Waters spoke about confronting the issue on his 2 year global tour and the shocking silence of Germany and France
In many countries, certainly in Europe, in France and in Germany, I came up against an absolute wall of silence, really, particularly in Germany, where nobody in the press, until I spoke to one journalist with a newspaper from Munich—nobody would speak to me, on the grounds that they had been told that I was anti-Semitic and that I could not be spoken to. And the Germans are very sensitive about Jewish affairs, and, in consequence, they are not open to even speaking—even speaking about human rights within the context of Palestine. the human rights abuses that are happening against Palestinians.