Congressional Hearing Focuses on Silencing and Censoring Palestinians

Washington, DC | | December 8, 2023 – Earlier this week a hearing was held on Capitol Hill under the guise of combating antisemitism. Rather than engaging in a real and constructive discussion about how to combat antisemitism, the hearing focused on silencing voices advocating for Palestinian rights. This misleading approach is incredibly detrimental to free speech and undermines the necessary fight against real antisemitism.

We are deeply concerned by the rank and purposeful misrepresentation of legitimate expressions of liberation and self-determination as “extremist” and “genocidal”, particularly when it comes from the halls of Congress. These mischaracterizations not only are false, but they dangerously vilify constitutionally protected political expression. In equating pro-Palestinian activism with hate speech, Members of Congress are setting a dangerous precedent that threatens the very essence of free speech and academic freedom. We have already seen manifestations of this dangerous approach and language particularly in the school system.

This hearing was neither the first nor the only attack on students and campus activism. It was simply an extension of a broader, troubling trend of McCarthy-esque tactics being used to suppress pro-Palestinian speech and activities. ADC is alarmed by the accelerating number of universities that have suspended student groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, as well as by the suggestion by Zionists and their supporters to use “anti-terrorism” laws against students based on their political beliefs (a suggestion which harkens back to the racist targeting of the Arab community after 9/11).

Congress has intentionally ignored violence targeting Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim students.
Arab American students, and those who support Palestinian rights, across the country are fearful of facing violent attacks, a fear only amplified following the shooting of three Palestinian college students. Doubling down on the targeting of these students, “doxxing” trucks on university campuses from Harvard to Columbia to George Washington are organized intimidation tactics aimed at making Arab and Anti-Zionist students feel unsafe. These tactics are used as a form of fear mongering  aimed at targeting/utilizing/harping on existing antisemitic sentiments and falsely linking them to  Pro-Palestinian activism by conflating it with antisemitism.

If Congress is truly sincere in its effort to fight discrimination on college campuses, the perspectives of Palestinian and Arab students must be included in any future discussions and hearings. Selective concern for some students at the expense of others contributes to the biased and widespread narrative that prioritizes one group’s certain experiences over another.

ADC remains resolute in our commitment to fight against hatred; we will not allow our students and communities to be bullied or silenced by disingenuous and dishonest tactics. Along with allies from every community, we will continue to advocate for free speech, the right to peaceful protest, and academic freedom on campuses across the country.

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