SFSC Video: Palestine Today and in the Future

Watch a video of the talk by Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh

Video by Jase Tanner Continue reading

Why Seriously Free Speech?

Over the last decade more and more people have started questioning the policies and actions of the State of Israel. In response, some of Israel’s supporters have increasingly tried to suppress open political debate of Palestine/Israel. This campaign to vilify, intimidate and harass Israel’s critics has intensified since December 2009 when live video showed Israel’s treatment of Palestinians during its military assault on Gaza.

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SFSC Letter: Reverse firing of Prof. Steven Salaita

To: Dr. Phyllis Wise, Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I write concerning your university’s firing of Prof. Steven Salaita in blatant violation of academic freedom and appeal to you to promptly re-instate his appointment, an act that would go a long way toward reassuring your university and scholars around the world that you value free speech and you mean to encourage the open discussion of political issues, no matter how contentious. Continue reading

SFSC Letter: Reinstate Dr. Steven Salaita

Dr. Phyllis Wise, Chancellor, University of Illinois

I am writing to you to request that you reverse the transparently political decision to dismiss Dr. Steven Salaita. I believe that on this occasion you have received misleading advice from one of your most senior colleagues, Professor Cary Nelson, who has been very active in this matter–but who in my opinion has behaved in a wholly improper manner. Continue reading

Salon: Return of the blacklist? Cowardice and censorship at the University of Illinois

Salon.com by DAVID PALUMBO-LIU

Job offer to world-renowned scholar reportedly revoked under pressure, likely over Gaza opinions on Twitter

A few weeks ago Steven Salaita had reason to be pleased. After a full review by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he had received a generous offer of a tenured, associate professor position there — the normal contract was offered, signed by the school, he had received confirmation of his salary, a teaching schedule, everything except the final approval of the UIUC chancellor.

In academia this is not at all unusual; departments and schools are told to go ahead with the offer, so as to be competitive with both the candidate’s current school and others that might be bidding for their talent. Salaita is a world-renowned scholar of indigenous studies (and also a frequent Salon contributor). At that point, as required by academic protocols, upon accepting the position he resigned the one he held at Virginia Tech.

But final approval never came. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports today that “Phyllis M. Wise, the campus’s chancellor, and Christophe Pierre, the University of Illinois system’s vice president for academic affairs, informed the job candidate, Steven G. Salaita, on Friday that they were effectively revoking a written offer of a tenured professorship made to him last year by refusing to submit it to the system’s Board of Trustees next month for confirmation.” Continue reading

PAC: Let Gaza Live

On August 7, 2014, the Palestine Awareness Coalition published a full-page ad in the Georgia Straight in response to the Israeli assault on Gaza, calling to “Let Gaza Live.”

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SUPPORT GAZA?

1. Contact your MP to demand an end to the siege of Gaza: Find your MP using your postal code!

2. Attend or organize demonstrations. These demonstrations are coming up in Vancouver, Friday August 8 and Saturday August 9. Please join in!

3. Boycott Israeli Goods. Some products you should boycott include SodaStream, Keter Plastics, Hewlett-Packard electronics, Sabra hummus, and Ahava cosmetics. Learn more about the global boycott.

4, Donate to medical aid. Two excellent organizations providing support are the Middle East Children’s Alliance and the UN Relief Works Association (UNRWA).

5. Donate locally to help pay for ads like these: by cheque or transfer to Vancity #656967, Branch 4, or online: https://www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?charityID=s32200

6. Spread the word and raise awareness about Palestine! Share this page on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

The Palestine Awareness Coalition is comprised of a number of Vancouver-area organizations, including SFSC, collectively working to raise awareness.

BIAC – Why is Neil Young Afraid of a Youtube Video?

NeilYoungRemovesVideoNeil censors video exposing the Palestinian reality behind his scheduled concert in Israel

Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign
For immediate release: July 7, 2014

Neil Young has claimed copyright infringement forcing Youtube to remove the video entitled “Neil Young – Honour the Boycott” criticizing Neil’s scheduled concert in Israel on July 17. The censored video mashup is part of a campaign calling on Neil to honour the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel and cancel his concert in Tel Aviv. The censored youtube link now leads to a blank video with the statement “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Neil Young.”

The censored video – NOW AVAILABLE ON VIMEO -  legally incorporates copyrighted material on the basis of “Fair Use” and strictly follows the “Online Video Best Practices for Fair Use” that is linked from the Youtube copyright fair use page.

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SFSC Letter – re Palestinian Artist Rehab Nazzal’s exhibit in Ottawa’s City Hall

I am writing on behalf of the Seriously Free Speech Committee based in Vancouver, BC. Seriously Free Speech was founded six years ago. We are, as our web site says- (www.serioulsyfreespeech.ca) “committed to free expression of views on Israel/Palestine. Members are concerned about growing intimidation, censorship and legal threats against individuals and organizations who criticize Israel’s actions.” In that context you won’t be surprised to know that we have followed the situation of the art of Rehab Nazzal at the Karsh-Masson Art Gallery in Ottawa’s City Hall.
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SFSC – Letter to SF State re Academic Delegation to Palestine

To: Leslie Wong, President San Francisco State University

Timothy White, Chancellor California State University
Larry Mandel, CSU Vice Chancellor and Chief Audit Officer
Carrie Hemphill Reith, CSU Resource Attorney for Conflict of Interest & Governance

May 31, 2014

Dear President Wong,

Our organization, The Seriously Free Speech Committee is committed to defending free expression of views on Palestine and Israel. Because our members are concerned about the growing intimidation, censorship and legal threats against individuals and organizations for criticizing Israel’s occupation and racist policies, we are writing to express our concern with the inflammatory statements in a March letter to you from the AMCHA Initiative and widely circulated by their network.
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SFSC Article: Bill C-13 – Criminalizing Criticism of Israel in Canada

A Hate-Propaganda Trojan Horse in Bill C-13 serious JAIL web

Joint Submission by SFSC and IJV-Canada to the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Human Rights about Bill C-13, the supposed Anti-Cyberbullying Legisation.

Written by Dr. Michael Keefer

The international campaign calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, as a peaceful means of persuading that state to abandon its systematic violations of international law and its policies of apartheid dispossession, colonization, and blockade in the occupied Palestinian territories, has recently enjoyed a burgeoning number of successes.1

In early February 2014, The Economist noted that BDS “is turning mainstream,”2 and former Israeli Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg wrote in Haaretz that the “BDS movement is gaining momentum and is approaching the turning point [.... at which] sanctions against Israel will become a fait accompli.”3

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a point of indicating that he and his allies would respond vigorously to this trend. Some of the reports about a cabinet meeting where tactics were discussed revealed more about internecine divisions between those ministers invited to take part and those who were excluded than about the substance of the meeting.4 Yet although Israeli media indicated “that ‘the discussion was held in secret’, with an imposed ‘media blackout’,” one source that reported this fact was able to give a fairly precise sense of what went on behind closed doors:

Ideas apparently discussed by senior ministers included lawsuits “in European and North American courts against [pro-BDS] organizations” and “legal action against financial institutions that boycott settlements … [and complicit] Israeli companies”. There is also the possibility of “encouraging anti-boycott legislation in friendly capitals around the world, such as Washington, Ottawa and Canberra”, and “activat[ing] the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S.” for such a purpose.5

This kind of “lawfare,” as it is sometimes called, is nothing new (nor, one can add, is the notion, also discussed at this meeting, of bolstering surveillance of pro-BDS organizations by military intelligence, the Shin Bet Security Service, and the Mossad). It’s also evident that the pro-Israel lobby has been active in mobilizing politicians in the “friendly capitals” of Washington, Ottawa, and Canberra for many years.

Recent fruits of that labour have included, in Canberra, threats made in June 2013 by Julie Bishop, a senior member of Julia Gillard’s incoming Australian government, that “supporters of an academic boycott of Israel” would have their “access to public research funds summarily cut off.”6 In Washington, a bipartisan “Protect Academic Freedom Act” that would deny federal funding “to colleges and universities that participate in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions or scholars”7 has been brought before Congress.

But what of Canada, whose Prime Minister is Mr. Netanyahu’s most faithful friend?8

This essay will argue that revisions to the Canadian Criminal Code proposed by the Harper government contain wording that is designed to enable lawfare prosecutions of human rights activists in precisely the manner desired by Mr. Netanyahu and his associates.

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SFSC Letter: Calls on University of Windsor president to support free speech

To Dr. Alan Wildeman, President, University of Windsor

I am writing on behalf of the Seriously Free Speech Committee to express our grave concern over your responses to the recent referendum in which a majority of students at the University of Windsor supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
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SFSC letter: To Ontario Premier re SLAPP legislation

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario

Dear Premier Wynne

I am writing on behalf of the Seriously Speech Committee – Vancouver to urge the enactment into law of Bill 83, Protection of Public Participation Act, 2014.

Frivolous lawsuits initiated by corporations and governments are designed to divert the financial and human resources of community organizations, effectively restricting their ability to freely express themselves and to participate in the political process. Legislation against SLAPP suits (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) is a fundamental reform to encourage broader participation on important public issues. Continue reading