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Michael Munk PDX Historian
NW Alliance Portal for the Center for Constitutional Rights

The Palestine Exception to Free Speech:

A Movement Under Attack in the US

The Palestine Exception to Free Speech

This report, released by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal in September 2015, documents for the first time the widespread and growing suppression of Palestinian human rights advocacy in the United States. Between January 2014 and June 2015, Palestine Legal responded to nearly 300 incidents of suppression; 85% of those incidents targeted students and professors, on a total of more than 65 US college campuses. This trend has significant implications for both the First Amendment and democratic principles like academic freedom, not to mention the mission of higher education to help develop critical thinking. The report outlines the tactics – including event cancellations, baseless legal complaints, administrative disciplinary actions, firings, and false and inflammatory accusations of terrorism and antisemitism – that Israel advocacy organizations, universities, government actors, and other institutions have used against activists. It also contains testimony from advocates who have been targeted for their speech or expression, and includes an appendix documenting more than 50 campus-related case studies.


The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the US

Executive Summary


Video of EIni_3TYg-A

Students and scholars discuss the backlash, censorship, and punishment they have experienced for engaging in Palestine advocacy.

Portraits: The Palestine Exception to Free Speech


Alongside the grave violations of human rights and international law of Guantánamo, there is a lesser known set of abuses that take place on U.S. soil in pursuit of the so-called “War on Terror.” These range from inhumane conditions of confinement in federal prisons, both pre- and post-trial, to dubious prosecutions for charges like “material support,” to the extensive surveillance of Muslim communities. The No Separate Justice: A Post 9-11 Domestic Human Rights Campaign, a coalition effort that CCR was instrumental in launching, is dedicated to exposing these injustices. They focus on telling the stories of the flesh-and-blood victims of these practices. As part of their work, they hold monthly vigils outside the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, where many of the victims of abusive detention practices are held. If you are in NYC, join the vigil this Monday at 6pm. CCR’s Omar Shakir will report on CCR and Muslim Advocates’ lawsuit challenging the NYPD’s systemic surveillance of Muslim communities in New Jersey. Speakers will also discuss the CIA Torture Report and a petition asking the U.S. State Department to allow UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez to carry out a fact-finding visit to U.S. super-maximum security prisons, both state and federal. Event details:

The scenes from Gaza are indescribable. Whole families killed inside their homes. Hospitals attacked with the wounded still inside. Those trying to flee have nowhere to go, due to Israel’s and Egypt’s long-standing closure of Gaza’s borders. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights described this weekend’s Israeli military attack in the Shuja’iyah neighborhood as a “massacre.”  United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called it an “atrocious action.”

Collective punishment and targeting civilians are prohibited under international law.  Further, the U.S. Leahy Law bars the U.S. from funding foreign military units and individuals where there is credible evidence that they took part in gross violations of human rights. 

Please contact the White House and your representatives to protest the U.S. government’s continued support for Israel during an onslaught that has already killed hundreds of civilians, and to which there is no end in sight.  Demand immediate enforcement of the Leahy Law in response to all reports of human rights violations, including war crimes, by the Israeli military in Gaza.

Thank you for taking action.

P.S. Please see CCR’s statement, last week, on Gaza. For those in the United States protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza, see CCR and Palestine Solidarity Legal Support’s legal and tactical “Know Your Rights” guide.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeals halted the reform process of New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy when it granted the city’s request to stay the remedies that Judge Shira Scheindlin had ordered in her landmark ruling in August. In a shocking move, the appeals court also removed the judge from the case, Floyd v. City of New York, and reassigned it to another judge.

Justice has been delayed, but CCR is here to make sure that it will not be denied. We need your help. Please give today and stand with CCR in this struggle to help make sure we prevail.

And please help us keep the political pressure on the incoming mayor to
drop the city’s appeal.

It’s important to emphasize that yesterday’s ruling does not overturn the judge’s decision or the reforms of the city’s unconstitutional practices that she ordered; it only delays the implementation of those reforms. The historic ruling in Floyd was based on over 8,000 pages of testimony and evidence in a nine-week trial that overwhelming demonstrated what millions of New Yorkers have known first-hand for years: that the NYPD routinely racially profiles and illegally stops people.

Yesterday’s ruling created an immediate uproar throughout the communities that have been most impacted by stop and frisk, among legal scholars and experts and in the media. The New York Times this morning called it “unwise” and said, “Given all the damage done by this program, the next mayor should end this saga by withdrawing the city’s appeal and instituting the cogent reforms laid out by Judge Scheindlin.”

Please take action and urge the mayor-elect to stand on the right side of history. Sign this petition and add your name to the growing chorus of people calling on the next mayor to DROP THE APPEAL.

CCR has stood alongside communities, partners and allies in the fight against discriminatory policing for over 15 years, and we won’t – we can’t – stop now. Please give today and help us bring this fight home so that we can finally bring about that day that when no New Yorker has to “live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life,” in Judge Scheindlin’s words.

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