After refusing to sign a pledge of allegiance to the state of Israel, the state of Georgia shut down a media literacy conference featuring journalist and filmmaker Abby Martin at Georgia Southern University. Martin had recently released a documentary critical of the Israeli government called “Gaza Fights for Freedom.” Now she is suing the state, claiming the decision is a violation of the First Amendment. Along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), today she filed a federal free speech lawsuit against the university system of Georgia.
Martin was dismayed by the university’s decision: “This censorship of my talk based on forced compliance to anti-BDS laws in Georgia is just one level of a nationwide campaign to protect Israel from grassroots pressure. We must stand firmly opposed to these efforts and not cower in fear to these blatant violations of free speech,” she said.
After I was scheduled to give keynote speech at an upcoming @GeorgiaSouthern conference, organizers said I must comply w/ Georgia’s anti-BDS law & sign a contractual pledge to not boycott Israel. I refused & my talk was canceled. The event fell apart after colleagues supported me
— Abby Martin (@AbbyMartin) January 11, 2020
Twenty-eight states have already mandated loyalty pledges to Israel as a means to outlaw dissent. But in December, President Trump passed legislation effectively criminalizing the Boycott Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement that aims to put pressure on the Jewish state through economic action, along the lines of the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. The law mandates that any public institution would be subject to losing all funding if the government deems that they are not doing enough to stamp out anti-Semitism, which, it explicitly states, includes any criticism of the Israeli government. In December, MintPress reported that the British government under Boris Johnson is planning to introduce similar legislation.
“The hyperbolic notion that conservatives are the ones being persecuted on college campuses has made blatant censorship campaigns against people for criticism of Israel, or other progressive protests, go completely ignored,” Martin wrote.