Did you know that the Maryland General Assembly is trying to pass a bill that will outlaw free speech, in an attempt to stifle dissent against the illegal occupation of Palestine?
Senate bill 647 and House bill 0998 would prohibit state financial aid for public colleges and universities that fund teachers' membership or participation in academic organizations that support boycotts against higher-eduction institutions in other countries.
This bill was introduced in response to a decision by the American Studies Association to reject formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions, with scholars who officially represent these institutions, or with the Israeli government--until that state ceases its violations of human rights and international law. The boycott does not apply to individual Israeli scholars engaged in other exchanges.
Along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU, and the New York Times editorial board, we believe that this bill is an unconstitutional infringement of free speech and that it is very dangerous.
Techniques of nonviolence, including boycotts, are sometimes called the "third way." In response to social injustice, they serve as an alternative to either violence or to what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., called "the betrayal of silence."
As an organization that finds both violence and silence untenable, we are committed to advocating for a climate that fosters this "third way." We are deeply distressed that this bill conveys a counter message, namely that boycotts and other nonviolent techniques are the least preferred manner of resolving conflict.
It is extremely important that your representatives in Annapolis hear from you right away on this pernicious bill.
In coalition with many other groups in MD, we have joined an ad hoc coalition to oppose SB 647 and HB 0998. You can read more details about this bill, its background, and the broad-based opposition to it on the ad hoc coalition's Web site.
Most importantly, on that Web site we have established a "Take Action" page that will enable you to easily send an e-mail to your three delegates and your state senator: Go to the Keep Free Speech in the Free State Web site now and click on Take Action.
We hope that in addition to sending an email to your delegates and senator you will phone them. Their phones need to be ringing off the hooks. You can find phone numbers here.
Please take action today.
In peace and solidarity,
Adrienne, Alex, Fran, Jean, Larry, Mel, Melinda, Mike, Pam, Rick, Shelley, Steve, Sue, Tim
P.S. Click on the button below to forward this e-mail to your friends.
"Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak. . . Non-violence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win."
TO DO THIS WEEK
Contact your delegates and senator about the bill to outlaw academic free speech in MD.
Come to Annapolis for hearings on the Fund Our Communities bill to establish a Commission on Maryland's Future: hearings are Feb. 18 and Feb. 26. More info and location details here.
And bring a friend!
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PeaceAction Montgomery | P.O. Box 1653 | Olney | MD | 20830