A journalist is suing the state of Georgia after state officials shut down a media literacy conference at Georgia Southern University because she refused to sign a pledge of allegiance to the state of Israel.
Journalist and filmmaker Abby Martin had recently released a documentary critical of the Israeli government called Gaza Fights for Freedom. Now she is suing the state, claiming the decision is a violation of the First Amendment, Activist Post reports.
Along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), today she filed a federal free speech lawsuit against the university system of Georgia.
Martin was dismayed by the university’s decision: “This censorship of my talk based on forced compliance to anti-BDS laws in Georgia is just one level of a nationwide campaign to protect Israel from grassroots pressure. We must stand firmly opposed to these efforts and not cower in fear to these blatant violations of free speech,” she said.
The law mandates that any public institution would be subject to losing all funding if the government deems that they are not doing enough to stamp out any criticism of the Israeli government.
“The hyperbolic notion that conservatives are the ones being persecuted on college campuses has made blatant censorship campaigns against people for criticism of Israel, or other progressive protests, go completely ignored,” Martin wrote.
CAIR’s Legal Defense Fund Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas said,
“There is no place where free speech is more important than on campus. And this attempt to suppress Abby’s views – denying students, academics, and others from hearing her lecture – is as brazen as it is illegal. In adopting this anti-BDS law, Georgia has prioritized the policy preferences of a foreign country over the free speech rights of Americans, like Abby, who speak on this state’s college campuses.”
In 2016, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a law requiring any person or organization entering into a contract with the state worth at least $1,000 sign an oath promising that they would not oppose the Israeli government in any fashion. CAIR has reason to believe they could overturn the law its Georgia Executive Director, Edward Ahmed Mitchell, called “blatantly and hilariously unconstitutional.”
In 2018, Bahia Amawi, a Houston-based children’s speech pathologist who worked with autistic, speech-impaired and other developmentally disabled children, lost her job after she refused to sign a similar document. Amawi had been at her job for nine years previously without a problem.
CAIR took up Amawi’s case and managed to overturn every Texas boycott law on the grounds of their unconstitutionality and she is now free to return to work.