“This censorship of my talk based on forced compliance to anti-BDS laws in Georgia is just one level of a nationwide campaign to protect Israel from grassroots pressure.” — Abby Martin
After refusing to sign a pledge of allegiance to the state of Israel, the state of Georgia shut down a media literacy conference featuring journalist and filmmaker Abby Martin at Georgia Southern University. Martin had recently released a documentary critical of the Israeli government called “Gaza Fights for Freedom.” Now she is suing the state, claiming the decision is a violation of the First Amendment. Along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), today she filed a federal free speech lawsuit against the university system of Georgia.
Martin was dismayed by the university’s decision: “This censorship of my talk based on forced compliance to anti-BDS laws in Georgia is just one level of a nationwide campaign to protect Israel from grassroots pressure. We must stand firmly opposed to these efforts and not cower in fear to these blatant violations of free speech,” shesaid.
After I was scheduled to give keynote speech at an upcoming @GeorgiaSouthern conference, organizers said I must comply w/ Georgia’s anti-BDS law & sign a contractual pledge to not boycott Israel. I refused & my talk was canceled. The event fell apart after colleagues supported me8,0099:49 AM – Jan 11, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy3,106 people are talking about this
Twenty-eight states have already mandated loyalty pledges to Israel as a means to outlaw dissent. But in December, President Trump passed legislationeffectively criminalizing the Boycott Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement that aims to put pressure on the Jewish state through economic action, along the lines of the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. The law mandates that any public institution would be subject to losing all funding if the government deems that they are not doing enough to stamp out anti-Semitism, which, it explicitly states, includes any criticism of the Israeli government. In December, MintPress reported that the British government under Boris Johnson isplanning to introduce similar legislation.
“The hyperbolic notion that conservatives are the ones being persecuted on college campuses has made blatant censorship campaigns against people for criticism of Israel, or other progressive protests, go completely ignored,” Martinwrote.
CAIR’s Legal Defense Fund Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas said,
There is no place where free speech is more important than on campus. And this attempt to suppress Abby’s views – denying students, academics, and others from hearing her lecture – is as brazen as it is illegal. In adopting this anti-BDS law, Georgia has prioritized the policy preferences of a foreign country over the free speech rights of Americans, like Abby, who speak on this state’s college campuses.”
The PCJF likened the BDS movement to the boycotts of the civil rights movement in the mid-twentieth century, its Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard described the laws as “extraordinary, outrageous, illegal and unconstitutional.” In 1956 Martin Luther King and his movement were criminalized for carrying out boycotts, as Southern states passed legislation to penalize their behavior, only for it to be later struck down by the Supreme Court. This is what Martin and the alliance of non-governmental organizations is hoping will happen here too. Why should I have to “contractually pledge loyalty to a foreign country?” she asked at her press conference today. Read more