A New War on Speech

by Selma James and Sara Kershnar

Published in Jacobin

Campaigns against Rabab Abdulhadi and other activists are calls for state-sponsored political harassment.

In the United States, it’s on campuses that the push against Israeli colonialism is having its greatest success. Despite attempts to quash faculty and student speech, the movement continues to surge.

Professors worldwide rallied to defend the American Studies Association’s landmark endorsement of academic boycott, divestment resolutions have passed in student assemblies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Chicago’s Loyola University. Among other actions, Students Allied for Freedom and Equality’s sit-ins at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor forced their student government to vote on a boycott resolution.

This patient and steady work has contributed to the growing international condemnation of Israel’s brutal occupation, the expansion of settlements from the Negev to the Jordan Valley, and the siege of the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s defenders, aware that their longstanding attempt to control public opinion is faltering, are investing over $300 million in propaganda, surveillance, and legal warfare to silence dissent and solidarity with Palestine with false claims of antisemitism. By now, the institutional muzzling of voices advocating for an open hearing for the Palestinian cause is unmistakable: Northeastern University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) suspended indefinitely, Florida Atlantic University students forced into re-education programs, a call for the removal of a Palestinian professor at San Francisco State University, and activists at University of California-Irvine facing state charges for protests.