Individuals, especially students, are receiving blowback for speaking against the attack on Palestinian people at their workplaces and schools. And as the attacks on Gaza continue (as of writing on 10/31, there have been over 8,000 confirmed deaths of Palestinian people, and internet
and cellular service is gradually returning in Gaza after being cut off for 36 hours), more people will likely be inspired to speak out.
This is most acute on Harvard’s campus, where students whose organizations signed onto a statement condemning Israel for its occupation of Palestine are now facing an intense doxing campaign initiated by the conservative organization Accuracy in Media. The group has created a site listing these students as antisemitic, and a truck with the faces and names of students is driving around campus, referring to each as “Harvard’s Leading Antisemites.” Now, students fear for their safety (Teen Vogue). Ryna Workman, a student at NYU Law School, lost a job offer and was suspended after they expressed solidarity with Palestine (hear their story on Democracy Now).
• Sign up for our one-hour workshop on advocating safely and effectively.
• Follow Palestinian Legal to learn more about your rights in supporting Palestine and Palestinian people.
• Use these resources from the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights to guide your advocacy efforts.
• Use and share our protest guide to ensure you’re protesting safely and effectively.
• Register here for The ARD online action hour tomorrow, 11/2, to demand Congress support a ceasefire.
Suppression is happening in corporate spaces, too. Writers like Nathan Thrall and Viet Thanh Nguyen have had events canceled for writing or sharing about Palestinian oppression. A hotel in Houston has canceled a conference scheduled for next week hosted by the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (CNN). The Boston Palestine Film Festival was forced to cancel its live screenings (WBUR). And executives have been suspended or fired for sharing pro-Palestinian statements (The Guardian).
This type of suppression isn’t new and is even codified by law in some states. Twenty-seven states have adopted laws or policies that penalize businesses, organizations, or individuals that engage in or call for boycotts against Israel (HRW). And similar practices are unfolding across the world. Since the armed action by Palestinian groups on October 7, France, Germany, Hungary, and Austria have banned pro-Palestine protests and are arresting those who defy the order. In Britain, Palestinian flags and slogans are considered threats to public safety (Jewish Currents). On October 26, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution condemning “antisemitic rhetoric” on college campuses; however, it associates solidarity with Palestine as support for Hamas and anti-Israel criticism as antisemitism. And some legislators are calling for pro-Palestinian student groups to be investigated for possible terrorism ties. Palestinians feel silenced and discriminated against, and pro-Palestine supporters feel unheard (Reuters).
Since then, leaders and organizations have put together resources to help protect those speaking out. Here are some highlights, including links for more information.
• Is it antisemitic to call for a ceasefire or advocate for the liberation of Palestine?
It’s not antisemitic to name the oppression of Palestinian people by the Israeli government. It is antisemitic to call for violence against Jewish people, blame Jewish people for the decisions of the Israeli government, or speak disparagingly against Jewish people (Palestinian Rights).
• Can I raise funds for Palestinian groups?
It is legal to raise charitable funds and donations for Palestinians affected by the occupation. It is not legal to raise funds for militant groups the U.S. government classified as “terrorist” organizations. All of the widely circulated fundraising campaigns for Palestine are legal—including the ones we’ve shared in the newsletter. (Palestinian Rights).
• Can my college take action against me for sharing my perspective?
If you go to a public college, as long as your language doesn’t directly harm students (see the next question), you have a right to express your opinion. Courts have upheld students’ rights to wear things like an anti-war armband, an armband opposing the right to get an abortion, and a shirt supporting the LGBTQ community (ACLU).
• Are my political viewpoints antisemitic?
Some groups have filed Title VI complaints alleging that Palestine activism amounts to discrimination or harassment against Jewish students. These complaints have so far been dismissed by the Department of Education (DOE), which has made clear that expression of political viewpoints, standing alone, is not “harassment” and does not create a hostile educational environment under Title VI. If you’re organizing a conversation or rally, it’s important to ensure that all parties participating agree to abide by these, too (Palestinian Rights).
• What can I do about threatening or hateful messages on email or social media because I support Palestinian rights?
You might be able to find support on campus or at your workplace. But legally, hate speech can’t be punished by public universities or law enforcement unless it reaches the level of legal “harassment.”
I hope these resources can help you understand the risk of speaking out for your own safety. But it’s important to remember that the lives of Palestinian people are at stake. If you have the capacity to take the risk, it’ll help to shift the narrative and, hopefully, end the genocide. We need every voice to support the movement for justice and liberation.
• People are being punished for speaking up for Palestine and Palestinian people at schools, workplaces and events.
• Criticizing the political decisions of Israel is not antisemitism.
• Use the tools outlined here to understand your rights when rallying for Palestine and take action most effectively.