Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Center For Constitutional Rights: Academic Freedom Under Attack

CCR Action Alert!

Dear CCR Supporter,
In response to rampant and widespread human rights violations committed by Israel with impunity, the movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) is growing in the United States.  But as BDS activism for Palestinian human rights grows, so does the threat to a critical and time-honored protest tactic: the right to engage in boycotts to effect political change, which is protected under the First Amendment.
  • In academia, the right to boycott is under fire. State governments in Illinois, New York, and Maryland have introduced legislation that would deny aid to universities that fund organizations that support boycotts of Israeli academic institutions.  Legislation condemning such boycotts is also pending in Pennsylvania and Florida, and we expect more to emerge.  Take action today! Your action makes a huge difference—last month, constituent outcry in New York stalled an even harsher version of an anti-boycott bill.  Similar federal legislation has been introduced and is pending in the House Committee on Education.  If enacted, this law would have a serious impact on the right to boycott in the United States. Please read our reaction to the federal legislation here.
  • There have been threats of litigation against the American Studies Association (ASA) since it endorsed a resolution in December 2013 to boycott Israeli academic institutions. See CCR’s response to threats of litigation against ASA.
  • After voting to boycott Israeli products, Olympia (WA) Food Co-op board members were sued in 2011.  CCR and co-counsel fought – and won – the lawsuit in 2012, and we just argued the appeal last week. For more information about this key case regarding the “Right to Boycott,” please see our case page and stay tuned for the outcome of the argument.
CCR and our partners at Palestine Solidarity Legal Support (PSLS) are tracking and responding to these and other attempts to suppress nonviolent ways of effecting change in Israel-Palestine. In 2013 alone,
PSLS responded to over 100 cases of legal and other intimidation against Palestinian rights activists.  For more information, visit the PSLS website.
Maria LaHood
Senior Staff Attorney

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