ADC Joins Coalition Defending Palestinian Advocacy on College Campuses

Washington, D.C. | November 3, 2023 — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) joins with a coalition of legal organizations in addressing a matter of utmost importance, namely, the protection of students engaged in advocating for Palestinian human rights on college campuses across the United States.

Read the letter here

We are deeply concerned about the recent Joint Letter sent by the Anti-Defamation League and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law to colleges and universities on October 25, 2023. This letter is a troubling attempt to suppress, defame, and silence supporters of Palestinian human rights, explicitly targeting chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The Joint Letter even goes so far as to falsely accuse SJP of “material support for terrorism,” a baseless and harmful accusation.

As organizations committed to defending human and civil rights, we understand the significance of protecting free expression and dissent, especially concerning marginalized communities. We have witnessed how the law can be weaponized to silence the voices of racialized and historically marginalized communities, and we are deeply concerned that such tactics are being employed against advocates for Palestinian human rights.

The ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is undeniable, with thousands of Palestinian civilians, including children, being killed and injured. The situation demands attention and protest from concerned individuals and organizations worldwide. It is crucial to distinguish legitimate criticism of Israeli state policy from anti-Semitism, and we stand against attempts to conflate the two.

The United States has a foundational commitment to freedom of speech, enshrined in the First Amendment. Both public and private universities have a duty to uphold free expression on their campuses and must carefully consider any actions that might suppress or infringe upon this fundamental right.

We emphasize that the Joint Letter’s accusations are unsupported by evidence and lack credibility. Calling for investigations into SJP chapters for “material support” of Hamas is an unjustifiable attempt to weaponize anti-terrorism laws against protected political speech. SJP is an independent student association, and its advocacy is well within the bounds of the First Amendment.

Moreover, we urge college and university leaders to be aware of the dangerous and hostile environment that has emerged, especially in recent weeks, targeting Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and other communities of color, as well as their allies. The tragic death of Wadea al-Fayoume, a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy, is a stark reminder of the real-world consequences of this climate of hatred and dehumanization.

We call upon college and university leaders to protect the civil and human rights of all students, uphold the principles of free expression and dissent, and reject any attempts to suppress political speech and activism. It is essential that campuses remain spaces where diverse voices can engage in open and meaningful dialogue on pressing global issues.

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Center for Constitutional Rights
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
CLEAR Project
Defending Rights and Dissent
Law for Black Lives
Movement Law Lab
Muslim Advocates
National Lawyers Guild
Palestine Legal
Project South

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