Illinois Senator Silverstein to censor American critics of foreign country Israel
By Ray Hanania
An Illinois state Senator has introduced legislation that would deny Americans the right to criticize or boycott an educational institution in a foreign country, and deny state funding to any organization in which criticism or boycott has been expressed.
The law is intended to protect the foreign country of Israel, which receives more than $5 billion in US taxpayer grants and loans, and is sponsored by legislators who have a political partisanship supporting Israel above the rights of Americans.
The key sponsor of SB 3017 is State Senator Ira I. Silverstein, a Democrat representing the 8th Senate District shared by House members State Rep. Lou Lang and State Rep. John D’Amico.
The law violates the U.S. Constitution and even contradicts the wording that has been used to defend the censorship, noting that the denial of funding against an agency that receives state funds if that agency’s action (boycott or criticism) is targeting an institution of entity that engages in discrimination.
Many American academic institutions have voted to boycott Israeli educational institutions because those educational institutions discriminate against Christian and Muslim civilian populations. But Silverstein’s legislation is not based on reason but on politics. Silverstein is a leading supporter of Israel, but more importantly, supports Israel’s continued oppression of Christians and Muslims in Israel and in the Occupied West Bank of Palestine.
Silverstein’s illegal law was quietly introduced to the Illinois Senate on February 7, 2014. It may actually violate the state’s hate laws because it is intended to sanction Israel’s discriminatory policies against Christian and Muslims who are both citizens of Israel and also occupied residents of the West Bank of Palestine.
Silverstein’s illegal law is modeled after similar state legislation introduced in New York, Maryland, Florida, Kansas, and congressional legislation introduced around the same time by rightwing Tea Party fanatic U.S. Peter Roskam and U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski whose 3rd congressional district has one of the nation’s largest concentrations of American Arabs and Muslims.
The bills are intended to deny civil rights to anyone who criticizes Israel’s discriminatory polices against Christians and Muslims. Many Christian organizations have denounced the proposed laws as being anti-Christian. Many Muslim American organizations have also denounced the proposed laws as being anti-Muslim.
Proposing boycotts are considered a legitimate expression of free speech in America, a free speech that Silverstein, Roskam and Lipinski are seeking to deny. Boycotts were used effectively against the Apartheid Government of South Africa, although Israel was on record supporting Apartheid South Africa and providing military equipment that was used to oppress Black citizens of that African country.
Many American activist and civil rights groups opposed to discrimination, racism and bigotry, are rallying supporters to respond to Silverstein, Roskam and Lipinski. All three elected officials are up for re-election in the Illinois General Election on Nov. 4, 2014. Two leading liberal Jewish American organizations are also engaged in confronting the discriminatory laws being introduced by elected officials like Silverstein, Roskam and Lipinski, including Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No!
Rather than promote peace and compromise, Silverstein’s efforts will clearly strengthen the fanatics and extremists on both sides, and undermine the efforts of moderates in the pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian camps to advocate for peace. Instead of blindly defending Israel, a foreign country, Silverstein should urge Israel to implement full rights to all citizens including Christians and Muslims, and end the expansion of illegal racist settlements and the confiscation of lands in the Occupied West Bank of Palestine.
Silverstein’s district includes Skokie,Glenview, Morton Grove, Lincolnwood, Evanston, and the northernmost neighborhoods of Chicago. Click here to view a map of his senate district.
Here is the key wording from the new censorship provision introduced by Senator Silverstein:
(b) The University may not use State aid provided directly to the University to fund an academic entity, provide funds for membership in an academic entity, or fund travel or lodging for any employee to attend a meeting of an academic entity if the academic entity has issued a public resolution or other official statement or undertaken an official action boycotting a country that is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development or higher education institutions located in that country.
(c) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the University is not eligible for State aid during the academic year in which the University is in violation of subsection (b) this Section. (d) The provisions of this Section do not apply:
(1) if the country is determined by the United States Secretary of State to be a state sponsor of terrorism;
(2) if the boycott is connected with a labor dispute; or
(3) if the boycott is for the purpose of protesting 19 unlawful discriminatory practices, as determined by the 20 laws or administrative rules of this State.
Silverstein’s illegal law specifically targets the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governor’s State University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, and Western Illinois University.