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Resolution 1210b “ Standing Policy in Favor of Free Speech and Academic Freedom”. Supplemental Materials and Clarification Memo. Delegates and Greater Graduate Student Community,

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resolution 1210b standing policy in favor of free speech and academic freedom

Resolution 1210b “Standing Policy in Favor of Free Speech and Academic Freedom”

Supplemental Materials and Clarification Memo

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Delegates and Greater Graduate Student Community,

After discussion of Resolution 1210b in committees this past month, I was asked to provide supplemental information regarding HR 35, the resolution to which 1210b refers to. Under this month’s Assembly Meeting Materials I have uploaded a supplemental information packet. This packet includes:

  • Full Text of California Assembly Bill HR 35
  • Definition of “Ethnic Cleansing” attributed to leading scholar
  • Working Definition of “Anti-Semitism”
  • A Resolution Regarding California Assembly Bill HR 35 passed by USCA
  • An Open Letter From California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Based on the conversation we had in the Campus Affairs committee meeting last week, I would like to offer a few clarifying points in this presentation:

1 why should the assembly take a position on this issue why now
1) Why Should the Assembly take a position on this issue, why now?
  • HR 35 demands that educational institutions censor any criticism of the state of Israel. This may impact the Academic Freedom of faculty and the research projects of the greater graduate student community, as well as their right to engage in legitimate political speech critical of government policies. Although such practices are not official policy currently in the UC, if we do not go on record in opposition to HR 35 our silence will be presumed as agreement with the demands of the state Assembly. To take a stand as an Assembly, we will advocate for full protection of our First Amendment Rights.
2 why does hr 35 seek to censor criticism of the state of israel
2) Why does HR 35 seek to censor criticism of the state of Israel?
  • At issue is the conflation of critique of the state of Israel and criticism of the Jewish religion. This strategy has been advanced by pro-Israel lobbying organizations toward the University of California since 2010 when the ASUC Senate voted overwhelmingly to support divestment from American arms suppliers that enable Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Since then the university has been the target of several legal complaints that also conflate anti-Semitic actions with pro-Palestinian human rights advocacy with the expressed goal of restricting the speech rights of the activists. Over this past summer, a Campus Climate report commissioned by UC President Mark Yudof advanced a similar thesis equating explicitly anti-racist protest by Palestinian human rights activists with anti-Semitism. HR 35 commends President Yudof for this action and urges UC leadership to go further.
3 how does hr 35 result in the restriction of academic freedom and freedom of speech
3) How does HR 35 result in the restriction of academic freedom and freedom of speech?

The resolution states:

“Assembly commends the initial actions taken by the University of California (UC) to address anti-Semitism on its campusessuch as: (1) refusal by the UC Board of Regents and the President of UC to consider divesturefrom companies doing business with Israel...”

This statement from the resolution clearly implies that divestment methods are anti-Semitic.

Additionally, the bill includes the following in the list of anti-Semitic events on UC campuses:

“...speakers,films, and exhibits sponsored by student, faculty, and community groups that engage in anti-Semitic discourse or use anti-Semitic imagery and language to falsely describe Israel, Zionists, and Jews, including that Israel is a racist, apartheid, or Nazi state, that Israel is guilty of heinous crimes against humanity such as ethnic cleansing...”

Implying that there is something anti-Semitic about criticizing Israeli policy as racist or Apartheid-like, descriptions used by many human rights organizations, respected figures such as Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu, and by scholars on our campus.

With anti-Semitism thus defined, the bill goes on to state:

“...While these actions are important steps, strong leadership from the top remains an important priority so that no administrator, faculty, or student group can be in any doubt that

anti-Semitic activity will not be tolerated in the classroom or on campus, and that no public resources will be allowed to be used for anti-Semitic or any intolerant agitation...”

4 what concerns have been raised about hr 35 thus far
4) What concerns have been raised about HR 35 thus far?
  • Since the passage of HR 35, concerns have been raised from the California Scholars for Academic Freedom, the UC Student Association, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and numerous other civil rights groups. They have all strongly opposed HR 35 as a threat to free speech and academic freedom on UC campuses and decried the manipulative use of anti-Semitism to silence and intimidate critics of Israeli policy. In addition, at least one co-author of HR 35 has indicated she may attempt to pass a follow up bill in the next term to distance herself from the free speech restrictions in the original bill. The GA vote could help encourage other legislators to support such a move. Currently, the ASUC is considering a bill similar to the GA bill before you. Passage in this body would help to encourage the ASUC to speak up as well and would give support to the Berkeley's graduate student community engaged in research threatened by HR 35.
citations
Citations

1. California Scholars for Academic Freedom http://cascholars4academicfreedom.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/an-open-letter-from-california-scholars-for-academic-freedom-to-california-assemblymembers-linda-halderman-bonnie-lowenthal-and-66-co-authors-of-california-house-resolution-35/

2. UC Student Association http://ucsa.org/document/view/236

3. Jewish Voice for Peace http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/blog/jvp-statement-opposing-ca-assembly-vote-on-limiting-free-speech-at-u-0

3. Center for Constitutional Rights and other civil rights groups http://ca.cair.com/sfba/news/assembly_resolution_stifles_discussion

4. "California legislator promise to affirm free speech rights on campus earns praise of Palestine solidarity activists"  http://mondoweiss.net/2012/09/california-legislator-promise-to-affirm-free-speech-rights-on-campus-earns-praise-of-palestine-solidarity-activists.html