Today, CCR and other civil rights groups submitted a letter to University of California (UC) President Mark Yudof, pressing him to consider the chilling effect of efforts to target Arab, Muslim and other students advocating for Palestinian rights on UC campuses, and to take affirmative steps to protect pro-Palestinian speech on campus. In particular, the letter points to the rash of baseless legal complaints that have increased scrutiny of student activism on Palestine, to a UC-initiated “campus climate” report that labels Palestinian rights advocacy as anti-Semitic and threatening to Jewish students, and to numerous public statements by UC officials that disparage such activism as “bad speech” and compare it to truly anti-Semtic and racist incidents on campus, such as noose-hangings and graffiti disparaging Jews, Muslims and the LGBTQ community.
The letter details ways that students have been affected by these negative depictions of their activism, including an increased fear of harm to their professional careers, immigration status, and for their safety; intimidation, threats and vandalism by other groups; and a sense that the University’s mis-characterization of their message reflects its efforts to undermine their free speech rights.
The civil rights groups are urging the UC President to take affirmative steps to ensure that students who advocate for Palestinian rights are equal members of the university community whose viewpoints are recognized as valuable contributions to an issue of great public concern. It also urges the President to renounce efforts to taint all student activism on Palestine as anti-Semitic, and to correct the mischaracterizations of these students’ nonviolent and anti-racist advocacy. CCR and the other signatories will continue to monitor attempts to intimidate Palestinian rights activists on college campuses, and to advocate on their behalf.