News Release

Censorship as Response to Criticism of Israel


ARUN KUNDNANI,, @ArunKundnani   Kundnani is the author of What is Antiracism? (2023) and The Muslims are Coming! (2014).

He wrote the piece “Islamophobia in the U.S. is rooted in its unconditional support for Israel” and more recently “Some questions for the 234 representatives who voted to censure Rashida Tlaib.”

He said today: “A cultural shift is taking place among young Americans in their attitudes to Israel and Palestine. Most under 35s in the U.S. now oppose Israel’s war on Gaza. And large numbers of students across U.S. colleges have become active in groups like Students for Justice for Palestine and Jewish Voices for Peace to demand a ceasefire. Recently, Redveil, a popular U.S. rapper, led thousands of his fans in a chant of ‘Free Palestine’ at a concert. This is unprecedented. For the first time Israel has lost legitimacy among young people in the U.S.

“Rather than engage young people in open debate and discussion, supporters of Israel are responding with efforts to censor and penalize them for expressing support for Palestinian freedom. Examples include:

  • Columbia University has suspended two pro-Palestinian student groups, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace. They will no longer be able to hold events on campus.
  • Harvard University President Claudine Gay has sent a letter to all students and faculty declaring that the slogan “from the river to the sea,” a widely used call for  freedom for Palestinians, whether they live in the Occupied Territories or in Israel, is antisemitic and its censorship is not a violation of free expression. Prior to this, Harvard lost at least $30m in donations from pro-Israeli funders who believed that the administration was failing to rein in its students. It also faced a demand from Bill Ackman, billionaire hedge-fund manager, and Harvard donor, to release the names of students who had signed a pro-Palestinian statement, so that companies could avoid hiring them.
  • At New York University, law student Ryna Workman was removed as president of the school’s Student Bar Association and subsequently lost a job offer from the law firm Winston & Strawn after she wrote a newsletter expressing solidarity with Palestinians.
  • At Cornell University, Russell Rickford, an associate professor of history, was suspended from teaching after he described the 7 October attack as “exhilarating.”
  • The Intercept recently reported: “The U.S. Senate passed a unanimous resolution condemning what it called ‘anti-Israel, pro-Hamas student groups’ across the country following a day of walkouts.”
  • letter from the Anti-Defamation League and the Brandeis Center to presidents of colleges and universities, called for the group Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP) to be considered a material supporter of terrorism. SJP is a non-violent student group. The ADL and Brandeis Center are essentially calling for young people engaged in lawful protest activity to be criminalized under a federal anti-terrorism statute.
  • The State University System of Florida chancellor, in consultation with Governor Ron DeSantis, has ordered chapters of SJP be “deactivated.”
  • Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has demanded the Justice Department investigate “far-left student groups” which have been critical of Israel.