The Palestine Exception To Free Speech In US – OpEd


The Palestine human rights movement and its advocates in the U. S. are under a growing pressure because of their criticism of Israel’s oppressive and deadly policy against the People of Palestine.1 The BDS campaign was the last straw that led to a coalition, which uses all available means to suppress freedom of speech. Since the BDS movement gained momentum, a network of organizations, public relations firms, think tanks, billionaires such as Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban, and the all-powerful Zionist Lobby, coordinated by Israel’s embassy in the U. S. – have intensified their efforts to stifle criticism of Israeli government policies.

BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) intends to end the occupation, guarantee equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respect the right of refugees to return to their homes. Especially on college and university campuses, the protest against Israel’s rights abuses has intensified and spread widely. In addition to the dynamic on campus, other groups have joint the movement. Hundreds of grassroots groups have started an information campaign on the situation on the ground in Israel and Palestine that the U. S. fawning media ignore should it be detrimental to the image of “beautiful Israel”.

Political activists from the U. S. often go to Palestine to show solidarity with the people under occupation, some have been severely injured or even killed like Rachel Corrie or Furkan Dogan. The U. S. government did not lift a finger, not to speak of demanding justice or to conduct an independent investigation. The BDS movement is also supported by several Jewish groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews say No, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, and Open Hillel. Other organizations such as American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation are supporting the quest for justice in Palestine.

Instead of engaging in a dialogue, this network took a heavy-handed approach. They not only blamed the critics “anti-Semites”, “Holocaust Denier”, “supporters of terrorists” or in the case of the Jewish supporter “self-hating Jews”, they started a campaign using classical Zionist methods of blackmailing institutions by threatening them with the withdrawal of financial support, which always works in the U. S. The following set of measures against the critics have been used: False and Inflammatory Accusations of Anti-Semitism and Support for Terrorism, Official Denunciations, Bureaucratic Barriers, Administrative Sanctions, Cancellations and Alterations of Academic and Cultural Events, Threats to Academic Freedom, Lawsuits and Legal Threats, Legislation and Criminal Investigations and Prosecutions.

This network of Israel supports has put tons of money in this slanderous campaign to crack down on the right of freedom of speech. The Netanyahu’s government discussed legal measures against the “delegitimization” that was seen as a threat, which had to be fought against. In 2015, the infamous Israeli Reut Institute came out with a proposal to highlighted the need to “out-name-shame the delegitimizers” as a strategy to fight BDS, recommending the use of “all available firepower – financial, social, legal, etc.”

Besides the huge support Israel has among the U. S. political class, starting from President Obama down to the unknown state governors, there are groups that run anonymous websites, which publish names, photos, biographical information, and links to Facebook profiles for dozens of students, professors, and other activists in order “to expose individuals and groups that are anti-Freedom, anti-American and anti-Semitic” to schools and prospective employers. Such an infamous website is “Canary Mission”.

Nobody knows who hides behind this vicious and denunciative website, except Daniel Pipes, the notorious Islamophobic “expert” on Middle Eastern Affairs who admitted it to journalists Max Blumenthal and Julia Carmel. Pipes himself instigated “Campus Watch” that called on students in Middle Eastern Studies to report “analytical failures, the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics, and the abuse of power over students.” According to the New York Times, Pipes is “perhaps best known” for this democratically questionable project. In the meantime, over 1,000 academics have signed a petition to condemn “Canary Mission Blacklist”.2

The Palestine Solidarity Movement and BDS are perceived an “existential threat” to the Zionist occupation regime in Israel and for the image of the State of Israel otherwise the “willing executioners of the Zionist Lobby would not invest that much money and relay also on activities of groups that are beyond the pale.

In Germany, similar things are happening but on a much smaller scale. The Zionist lobby and their German accomplices have not reached this level of criminal proficiency. There biggest and only argument is “anti-Semitism”. Against almost every exhibition or critical lecture on Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, the lobby goes wild and yells “anti-Semitism”. The problem in German is not the “all-powerful” Zionist lobby but the guilt-ridden German political and media class. After the Zionist lobby stigmatizes an organization, exhibition or individual as “anti-Semitic” the German bureaucrats cave into the pressure. This subservient behavior shows that Germany’ democracy lacks real true democrats, which should not surprise those who understand the German national traits. The latest incident happened in Munich where the city and later the catholic church withdrew already granted rooms to the Jewish editor-in-chief of the website “the Semite” (der Semit). The powerful Zionist lobby in Munich was behind this slanderous campaign. There is a certain irony in the fact that in the year 2016 Jews are not allowed to speak their mind in front of an audience without the permission of the Zionist lobby. But as things get worse, we will one day catch up with the terrible situation in the U. S.


Ludwig Watzal

Dr. Ludwig Watzal works as a journalist and editor in Bonn, Germany. He runs the bilingual blog “Between the lines”. He can be reached at

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