Unconstitutional Protect Academic Freedom Act
by Stephen Lendman
On February 6, Rep. Peter Roskam’s (R. IL) press release headlined “Roskam, Lipinski Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Academic Freedom by Preventing Academic Boycott of Israel.”
On February 6, HR 4009 was introduced. It was referred to committee. No further action so far was taken.
It’s an outrageous anti-academic freedom measure. It’s unconstitutional. It targets the American Studies Association (ASA).
It’s the nation’s oldest and largest organization involved in the interdisciplinary study of US culture and history.
Its members represent numerous academic fields. They include academics, researchers, librarians, as well as public officials and administrators.
Last December, they acted responsibly. They overwhelmingly endorsed an academic boycott of Israel.
They oppose anti-Semitism, other forms of racism, discrimination of all kinds, and xenophobia. They acted in “solidarity with aggrieved people in the United States and in the world.”
They said America “plays a significant role in enabling” Israel’s occupation, its “illegal settlements and (its) Wall in violation of international law…”
They oppose “systematic discrimination against Palestinians.” It’s had a “devastating impact on (their) well-being…” Their fundamental rights are denied.
Palestinian academic freedom is spurned. ASA “is dedicated to the rights of students and scholars to pursue education and research without undue state interference, repression, and military violence” everywhere.
It “resolved (to) honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.”
It’s justified, it said, for the following reasons:
- US military and other support for Israel;
- Israel’s systematic violation of international laws and UN resolutions;
- its longstanding occupation harshness;
- “the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights,” and
- strong ASA member support.
Their resolution remains binding until Israel stops violating fundamental international laws. It bars official collaboration with Israeli academic institutions. It doesn’t apply to Israeli scholars. ASA supports their academic and related rights.
Its boycott followed Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) members unanimously approving their own resolution last April. It was the first scholarly organization to do so.
According to Roskam, the Protect America Freedom Act “seeks to preserve academic freedom and combat bigotry by shielding Israel from unjust boycotts.”
“It is ludicrous for critics to go after our democratic friend and ally Israel when they should be focusing on the evils perpetrated by repressive, authoritarian regimes like Iran and North Korea.”
“These boycotts not only threaten educational cooperation between the United States and Israel, but ultimately undermine the academic goals of all nations.”
“Congress has a responsibility to fight back against these hateful campaigns, which contradict academic freedom and are designed to delegitimize the Jewish State of Israel.”
“I’m so thankful for the wisdom and leadership of Ambassador Michael Oren, who has helped raise awareness for this important effort.”
Oren is militantly racist. He’s a former Israeli ambassador to Washington. He urged Congress to enact this type legislation.
He’s now a CNN analyst and contributor. He’s what this writer calls a paid liar. A well-paid one.
He’s pro-war. He deplores peace. He supports denying Palestinians all rights. He’ll fit right in at CNN. He strongly supports HR 4009. He calls it a “courageous initiative.”
Lipinski’s comments were much like Roskam’s. Imperial partners speak the same way. They deplore fundamental civil and human rights.
They support Israel’s worst crimes. They want nothing interfering with its ability to inflict maximum harshness on Palestinian victims.
They oppose organizations like ASA championing right over wrong. Congressional hardliners endorse polar opposite policies.
Protect Academic Freedom Act (PAFA) defines “an institution of higher education to be participating in a boycott (if) the institution, any significant part of the institution, or any organization significantly funded by the institution adopts a policy or resolution, issues a statement, or otherwise formally establishes the restriction of discourse, cooperation, exchange, or any other involvement with academic institutions or scholars on the basis of the connection of such institutions or such scholars to the state of Israel.”
In other words, if they’re committed to holding Israel and/or its institutions accountable for high crimes against peace, equity and justice.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued an Action Alert, headlining: “Tell Congress to Drop ‘BDS’ Restricting Academic Freedom, Free Speech.” It continued, saying:
“Yesterday, an unconstitutional bill was introduced in Congress designed to limit academic freedom and the free speech rights of American universities and student groups participating in the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS).”
“CAIR is urging American Muslims and all others who value constitutional protections to contact their elected representatives and request that they oppose the bill.”
“The BDS campaign seeks an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, equality and justice for the Palestinian people, and the right of return guaranteed Palestinian refugees by United Nations resolutions.”
PAFA is “misleading.” It’s racist. It’s malicious. It’s lawless. It violates fundamental First Amendment rights.
CAIR’s Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw called it “unconstitutional…The same peaceful method of political activism has been used to challenge injustice in America and worldwide, including against one of the greatest forms of injustice in our time – Apartheid.”
Responsible Jewish organizations went on record opposing this legislation, he added. They’re fundamentally against it.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) issued a likeminded action alert. It stressed PAFA’s unconstitutionality. It promised updated action alerts as events dictate.
PAFA follows similar New York and Maryland measures. Maybe other states plan their own.
Palestine Solidarity Legal Support and Cooperating Counsel director Dima Khalidi called PAFA “an outrageous assault on free speech.”
It violates core constitutional rights. It punishes Palestinian justice advocates. It targets legitimate political dissent.
Whether Zionist organizations openly support the measure remains to be seen. AIPAC said it’s reviewing the text.
ADL’s Abe Foxman said he’s “not sure that this bill would be the most effective means of recourse.”
In other words, it’s so over-the-top, it may backfire on its endorsers. It reflects the state of today’s America.
Fundamental freedoms are targeted. They’re eroding in plain sight. Police state lawlessness replaced them.
Tyranny approaches faster than most people think. The worst of all possible worlds would follow on arrival.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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