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UC Bans Criticism of Israel

Mario Savio speaking at UC Berkeley free speech rally in 1964.

Sign My Petition

Free Speech Movement leader Mario Savio would surely roll over in his righteous grave and throw his body against the gears of the machine if he knew University of California Regents were considering a ban against criticism of Israel on campus.

Sound unbelievable?

Unfortunately, it's true, so I just launched the petition: STOP the University of California from Banning Criticism of Israel.

Please sign and join me in protecting free speech at the university.

UC Bans Criticism of Israel

Berkelely students discussing BDS.

After seven of the nine UC student senates passed resolutions calling on the university to divest from companies profiting off of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, some students demanded UC adopt the State Department's definition of anti-Semitism as denial of Israel's right to exist.

In other words, challenge Israel’s refusal to allow Palestinians the right of return – to exist in their own homeland – and you risk expulsion from the university.

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In a draft Statement of Principles, UC Regents refused to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism but nevertheless called for broad restrictions on intolerance. The LA Times editorial board said that statement failed the free-speech test.

Even so, student lobbyists and pro-Israel groups pressured the Regents to form a new committee to revisit the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism in order to further restrict political speech.

While racism and bigotry against Jews, Muslims, and any and all ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations is repugnant, one must acknowledge that California already has laws on the books against violent hate crimes and hate speech that carries the threat of harm. We do not need a duplicative policy statement or an unconstitutional Statement of Principles designed to silence voices that question the status quo.

If the University of California can censor debate on Israel by threatening critics with expulsion, what is to stop the university from restricting all political debate? A threat to free speech at the University of California is a threat to free speech everywhere.

I am saddened and dismayed to think that my alma mater would reverse the course of its own history in an effort to silence political speech. Certainly, any attempt to cement a prohibition against criticism of Israel would immediately be challenged in court as a violation of the First Amendment, the bedrock of our Constitution.

Marcy Winograd

Please join me in urging the Regents to protect free speech.

May Mario Savio rest in peace.

Marcy Winograd
U.C. Berkeley, B.A., 1974
UCLA, Teaching Credential, 1993