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Critics of Israel Are Being Silenced on Campuses, Charges Jewish Voice for Peace

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
December 2015

Critics of Israel are being silenced on the nation’s college and university  
campuses and falsely accused of “anti-Semitism,” charges a report by Jewish  
Voice for Peace.  
The report, titled “Stifling Dissent,” asserts that Israel advocates are  
using “false charges of anti-Semitism to silence critics of Israeli  
policies.” Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights issued a  
similar report called “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement  
Under Attack in the U.S.”  
The JVP report argues that Jewish communal organizations are seeking to  
“muzzle political criticism” of Israeli policies and threatening  
“constitutionally protected speech and academic freedom.” JVP accuses groups  
such as StandWithUs and the Zionist Organiz¬ation of America of filing false  
complaints with the federal government that claim campuses are hostile for  
Jewish students, pressure university administrators into canceling pro-  
Palestinian speakers and engage in “black¬listing professors.”  
Dima Khalidi, director of Palestine Legal, said that intimidation of pro-  
Palestin¬ian students is “widespread across the country,” and that the  
incidents detailed in the joint report are “only the tip of the iceberg with  
a lot more incidents going unreported.”  
According to the JVP report, “Organiz¬ations aligned with the Israeli state  
have invested enormous resources into countering the solidarity movement for  
justice and equality on college campuses … In June 2015, Sheldon Adelson …  
casino magnate and owner of the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, held a  
secret Las Vegas summit that raised up to $50 million to fight the  
nonviolent BDS movement on campuses.”  
For years, those defending Israel have attempted to silence its critics, JVP  
notes, by “often deploying spurious charges of anti-Jewish bigotry, shutting  
down convers¬ations, and policing the boundaries of legitimate Jewish  
identity and acceptable debate. … They have helped shape problematic  
definitions of anti-Semitism in order to limit open debate on college  
campuses, and intimidate students, faculty and administrators … Far-right  
political organizations like StandWithUs, and the Zionist organization of  
America, as well as many prominent Jewish organizations with much broader  
communal mandates, such as Hillel International, Jewish Federations  
(specifically their Israel on Campus coalition), and the Anti-Defamation  
League, inter¬vene on campuses in efforts to muzzle political criticisms of  
Israeli policies. As a result, constitutionally protected speech and  
academic freedom … are under increasing threat.”  
By framing such activism on behalf of Palestinian rights and criticism of  
Israel as “anti-Semitic,” these Israel advocates, JVP declares, “cause  
confusion over what is truly anti-Jewish bigotry versus political positions  
that cause discomfort to the Israeli government and its supporters. Students  
and faculty who are targeted for their political beliefs hesitate to  
participate in public discourse out of fear of the consequences of  
exercising their right to free speech.” •

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© 2010 The American Council For Judaism.