MPAC Calls on Congress to Uphold First Amendment Rights of Free Speech

December 5, 2023 Statements

Washington, D.C. | | December 5, 2023 — The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) is deeply troubled with the passage of H.Res.894, which equates anti-Zionism to Antisemitism, and stifles free speech by misconstruing it with hate speech. 

Antisemitism, like any form of bigotry, has no place in America. We stand with our Jewish-American allies in countering domestic terrorism and white supremacy, which have caused immeasurable harm to marginalized communities. As Claudine Gay, President of Harvard University, stated in her testimony during the hearing for Holding Campus Leaders Accountable And Confronting Antisemitism before the House Education and Workforce Committee earlier today, “Antisemitism is a symptom of ignorance, and the cure for ignorance is knowledge.” By preventing critical thought and honest discussion, we are not preventing Antisemitism, instead we are closing the door on the debate of how best to counter this scourge, and even more importantly, impeding efforts to end the war. 

The conflation of anti-Zionism and Antisemitism effectively discredits any criticism of the Israeli government’s ongoing assault on Gaza, which has resulted in the deaths of nearly 16,000 Palestinians, 7,000 of which are innocent children, while further minimizing the decades of human rights violations inflicted upon the Palestinian people. 

A proper distinction between the two concepts must be made to ensure that the American fundamental values of free speech, democracy, and justice are upheld. A critique of political Zionism is not a statement against Jewish people’s right to self-determination, nor is it an act of hatred against the global Jewish community. Rather, it is a call to address the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people in occupied territories at the hands of the Israeli government and armed forces. Individuals should be able to express their solidarity and concerns without fear of reprisal through instrumentalized policies, such as H.Res.894. 

The violence in Israel and Gaza has also heightened tensions on college campuses nationwide. University faculty members have rightfully recognized the importance of condemning Antisemitism within their institutions. Comparatively, acknowledging the rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Arab animus on college campuses has often been conflated with Antisemitism, dismissing the concerns and experiences of students advocating for Palestinian human rights and intimidating those who speak up against oppression. MPAC works to support these students in the absence of administrative and governmental support.

MPAC stands committed to working with Congress and relevant Committees to protect students and community members as we face a new wave of anti-Muslim animus which is just as relevant of a threat as Antisemitism. We thank those who opposed these efforts to conflate anti-Zionism with Antisemitism and stand united against discrimination and fear, condemning all forms of hate and bigotry. In doing so, we urge lawmakers to reconsider their stance and push for a balanced approach that upholds free speech, safeguards civil liberties, and respects the diverse perspectives and experiences of those affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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