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An Update on the University of California anti-BDS, anti-Free Speech Resolution

Submitted by Robin Messing on Thu, 03/24/2016 - 5:03am

A few days ago I wrote an article about an anti-free speech resolution pending before the University of California Board of Regents that would conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.  Unfortunately, the resolution passed.  Fortunately, it was watered down somewhat before it was passed.  I encourage you to read this article by Robert Mackey at the Intercept.  In it, he reports that  "just before the regents voted on the policy on Wednesday, a member of the working group, Norman Pattiz, further amended the reference to anti-Zionism so that it now condemns 'anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism.'"

The resolution is still bad, but it could have been worse.

The fact that it was changed from condemning anti-Zionism to “anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism” implicitly recognizes that there are non-anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism. It implicitly recognizes that you can be an anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic.

Still, the resolution has the potential to chill free-speech and wrongfully pressure those critical of Israel to censor themselves lest someone interprets their motives as anti-Semitic. A big question left open is who gets to decide what anti-Zionist speech is anti-Semitic? If the judges who decide guilt or innocence under this resolution are members of Stand with Us, AMCHA, or other like-minded groups, then they have already made up their minds that anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism and there are no safeguards protecting legitimate speech. What is needed is for free speech advocates to try to get the Regents to drop the phrase “anti-Semitic forms of Zionism” on the grounds that it is redundant. The resolution already rightfully condemns “anti-Semitism”. Therefore, “anti-Semitic forms of Zionism” are already covered by the resolution and the phrase could be omitted, thus eliminating the risk of unnecessary self-censorship and reducing the risk that those Zionists who hate speech critical of Israel will get a chance to wrongfully punish those they oppose.