Stop CA Legislature silencing students who support Palestinian rights & upcoming events

palestinianrightssacregion at palestinianrightssacregion at
Tue Sep 3 12:17:00 PDT 2013

Contact your CA state Assemblymembers and Senators and tell them to stop trying to silence advocacy for Palestinian human rights on campuses. Tell them to vote no on ACR 76 and rescind HR 35:
● This week, the California Assembly is considering ACR 76, which opens the door to condemning advocacy for Palestinian human rights in California campuses, while appearing to support free speech. 

● In August 2012, the Assembly passed HR 35, an even worse measure that equated criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Semitism, falsely painted a picture of Jewish students at the University of California system as under attack and actually called on university administrators to violate the Constitution by barring certain speech protected by the First Amendment and California law.  HR 35 did not improve the campus environment, nor did it make students any safer. What it did was to provide a club for those who want to demonize and squelch campus support for Palestinian rights.  ACR 76 leaves HR 35 in place while continuing the attack on students’ right to free speech.

Text & analysis of ACR 76 is below.

To find out your CA elected officials: <> 
- Assemblymember Roger Dickinson: 916-319-2007; assemblymember.dickinson at
- Assemblymember Ken Cooley: (916) 319-2008; assemblymember.cooley at
- Assemblymember Richard Pan: (916) 319-2009; assemblymember.pan at
- Assemblymember Mariko Yamada: (916) 319-2004; assemblymember.yamada at
- Senator Darrell Steinberg:  (916) 651-4006; senator.steinberg at
- Senator Lois Wolk: (916) 651-4003; senator.wolk at
Upcoming events:

► Get your tickets to Room for Hope, Palestinian youth debke performance, Thurs. Sept. 25, 7pm. Guild Theater, 2828 35th St. Tickets at Filco, SALAM or contact  <mailto:SacramentoBethlehem at> SacramentoBethlehem at 
► Thurs., Oct 3:  <> Where Should the Birds Fly?  The first film about Gaza made by Palestinians living the reality of Israel’s siege and blockade. The filmmaker Fida Qishta will answer questions after the showing. Crest Theater, 1013 K. FMI: sacramento at
► Wed., Oct 16, 7pm, Protecting Children in Palestine: Presentation by Defense of Children International-Palestine <>  First United Methodist Church, 2100 J St. FMI: sacramento at
► Tues, Oct 29, 7pm,  <> The Gaza Kitchen: Cuisine & Resistance in Palestine. Presentation by journalist and author Laila El-Haddad Centennial United Methodist Church, 5401 Freeport Blvd. FMI: SacPeace at
► Fri. Nov 29, International Day in Solidarity with the Palestinian people. Rally at Arden & Heritage, Sacramento. FMI: SacReg4PalestinianRights at

► Boycott SodaStream bannering and leafleting continues on Saturdays this fall. SodaStream is made in an illegal Israeli settlement on stolen Palestinian Land.  FMI: sacramentobds at

More details about these events: <> 
More information on ACR 76:
For full text of ACR 76:  See analysis of National Lawyers Guild below (FMI: board at
Through ACR 76 and HR 35, some CA Legislators want to stop students from discussing boycotting and divesting from Israel’s occupation of Palestine.  
Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Education just stopped another act of legal bullying by dismissing complaints against UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and UC Irvine that falsely claimed that pro-Palestinian activism at these campuses created a hostile and anti-Semitic environment for Jewish students on campus. 
No students should be in fear of censure, discipline or reputational smear for criticizing injustice and demanding Palestinian equal rights.
Tell Sacramento to stop meddling with free speech on campus.
 Analysis of National Lawyers Guild of ACR 76
Regarding HR 35 (passed, August 2012) and ACR 76 (proposed, August 2013)
Summary of the damage caused by HR 35 (passed in 2012):
*       It purported to solve a problem that does not exist: The resolution painted a false picture of rampant anti-Semitism and harassment of Jewish students on UC campuses. Had legislators sought participation of actual students in their hasty deliberation, they would have heard from the vast majority, including Jewish students, that such allegations are simply not true.
*       It equated campus discourse on political issues relating to Israeli government policies with anti-Semitism, basing the equation on a purported official definition of anti-Semitism that was never anything of the sort and has been widely discredited by experts. In so doing, it trivialized real anti-Semitism and therefore made more difficult the fight against it where it does occur. 
*       It urged University of California officials to violate the U.S. and California constitutions and state law by cracking down on and denying standard campus support to legitimate student speech based on its content.
*       By doing so, it contributed to a hostile environment on campus for supporters of Palestinian rights, as elements in and outside the university frequently cited “the Legislature’s opinion” in efforts to squelch speech, threaten careers and reputations and even seek spurious criminal prosecution.
(For more detail, please see the September 2012 letter to legislators sent by 10 civil rights and student activist groups.)
ACR 76, while not objectionable in and of itself, fails to correct the damage of HR 35
*       While it affirms a strong commitment to free speech on campus, it does so only in general terms, with no reference to the specific issues that made HR 35 so problematic: Its allegation that criticism of Israeli government policy is anti-Semitic and should “not be tolerated in the classroom or on campus.”
*       By also not mentioning that HR 35’s problematic are the reason for introducing ACR 76,  its passage will not stop the sponsors of HR 35 and others determined to shut down advocacy for Palestinian human rights from continuing to claim that HR 35 remains the opinion of the California Assembly.
Our hopes for the future
*       That legislators and staff will retain sufficient institutional memory and know to read carefully and consult with concerned parties if again presented with proposed legislation, resolutions or letters purporting to combat anti-Semitism.
*       That any such measure will not be rushed to passage without adequate time and notice for a full airing of its assertions, implications and possible effects.
Toward these ends, the organizations that objected to HR 35 and that remain dissatisfied by the corrective measure, ACR 76, pledge to engage in all possible educational activities to inform legislators and staff about issues, principles and advocacy regarding efforts to support achievement of human rights, justice and peace for Palestinians as well as Israelis and other peoples in the Middle East. In exchange we request a willingness to listen, learn and act appropriately on behalf of these goals.
Proposed amendments to ACR 76 (National Lawyer Guild)

1.     The draft proposal submitted to you by the coalition of civil rights organizations in late 2012 opens with the following paragraph:
Whereas, California Education Code § 66301 requires that no state institution of higher education “shall make or enforce a rule subjecting a student to disciplinary sanction solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that, when engaged in outside a campus of those institutions, is protected from governmental restriction by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution.”
We urge that this be inserted into ACR 76. That would ground the resolution’s main goal in existing law and serve as an important reminder that in enacting HR 35 our legislators did not intend to authorize universities to impose unconstitutional limits on free speech.
2.     The sixth “whereas” clause in ACR 76 as introduced states:
WHEREAS, Unfortunately, college campuses are also sometimes home to some of the most vitriolic speech directed at individuals;
We urge that this be deleted. If the implication is that speech is particularly vitriolic on campuses compared to elsewhere, no study that we know of has found this to be true, and we don’t believe it is. Included, it could perpetuate a myth advanced by those who falsely describe UC campuses as hotbeds of vicious anti-Semitism.
3.     The seventh “whereas” clause in ACR 76 as introduced states:
WHEREAS, Freedom of speech sometimes requires that society tolerate the intolerant, but not without limitation; 
The end of this statement is inaccurate and probably not what the authors mean. Like it or not, “intolerant” speech and even far worse is absolutely protected by the First Amendment and the state Constitution, on campus and off. Permitted limitations on free speech in this context occur only in light of true threats to others and in certain situations where time, place and manner restrictions are allowed. 
We believe it would better reflect to the intentions of ACR 76’s authors to say:
WHEREAS, Freedom of speech requires that society tolerate the intolerant, but we need not remain silent in response;
4.     The eighth “whereas” clause in ACR 76 as introduced states:
WHEREAS, A positive response to intolerance is for fair-minded, decent men and women of all political persuasions to exercise their own constitutionally protected right to free speech to condemn biased, hurtful, and dangerous speech that is intended to stoke fear and intimidation in its listeners; 
a.     "Dangerous speech" (unlike biased, hurtful and intolerant speech) may actually be banned, when narrowly and objectively defined, but it doesn’t really belong here, especially without definition or relevance to the issue at hand. Its inclusion engenders confusion regarding constitutional protection of political speech. 
b.     “Hurtful speech” is an almost entirely subjective term, subject to very different views and sensitivities. Moreover, hurtful speech is clearly protected. To say it should be condemned could play into the hands of those who have created a chilling effect on campuses by claiming that certain political views are hurtful to them and should therefore be suppressed.
c.      Similarly, “biased speech” is ambiguous. Is the intent to refer to bias based on ethnicity or religion, for instance, which we should condemn because it is demeaning? Or is it alleged political/ideological bias, which is a natural characteristic of robust discourse but has been, like “hateful,” invoked to chill the expression of unpopular views?
d.     The last phrase, “intended to stoke fear and intimidation in its listeners,” needs a more objective phrasing that makes clear the object of the intent, to prevent its misuse in a way that could enable the chilling of legitimate speech.
Therefore, we urge that the clause’s conclusion be amended to read:
… to condemn speech that demeans other people or groups and is intended to intimidate or to stoke a reasonable apprehension of fear in its listeners or in its intended targets.
5.     The second “resolved” clause in ACR 76 as introduced states:
Resolved, That the Legislature hereby condemns biased, hurtful, and dangerous speech intended to stoke fear and intimidation in its listeners;
For the same reasons explained in 4, above, we urge that it be amended to read:
The Legislature hereby condemns speech that demeans other people or groups and is intended to intimidate or to stoke a reasonable apprehension of fear in its listeners or in its intended targets.
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