Bill in SC Statehouse Attacks Free Speech on Palestine/Israel

Right-wing Christian Zionist state legislator Rep. Alan Clemmons has lined up support in the SC House for a bill H.3643 that invokes a controversial and vague State Department definition of anti-semitism to silence legitimate criticism of Israel on campuses in South Carolina.  Language in the bill referencing a “What is Anti-Semitism Relative to Israel?” fact sheet is a direct attack on First Amendment protected political speech and intentionally blurs the line to conflate and equate legitimate viewpoints on Palestine/Israel with anti-Semitism, a backdoor form of censorship.  On Wednesday Feb 22nd, concerned community members, USC students and scholars showed up in force at the Judiciary Special Laws Subcommittee hearing to express our concerns on H.3643.  Nevertheless, after ten people testified, the Special Laws subcommittee approved the bill without discussion.  We now must take our concerns to the full SC House Judiciary Committee.

TAKE ACTION: 

  1. Email the entire House Judiciary Committee and tell them to reject  the unconstitutional H.3643.  Demand they remove the problematic language referencing  the “What is Anti-Semitism Relative to Israel?” fact sheet  from the bill. Email the entire House Judiciary Committee
  2. Call the Individual Members of the SC House Judiciary Committee. Voice your opposition to the bill as an unconstitutional backdoor means of censoring discussion of Palestine/Israel on SC campuses.  Request that the House Judiciary listen to our concerns and remove the problematic language referencing  “What is Anti-Semitism Relative to Israel?” from H.3643.  Look up Contact for SC House Judiciary Committee Members  NON BILL SPONSORS TO CALL:  James E. Smith,(1st Vice Chair House Judiciary),  Micah Caskey, Jeffrey Johnson, John McCravy, Joseph McEachern, David J Weeks.  DEMOCRATIC BILL SPONSORS TO CALL:
    John King, Mandy Powers Norrell, Laurie Slade Funderburk, Seth Whipper, Todd J. Rutherford (House Minority Leader-AIPAC junket 2010), Beth E Bernstein (Not good on this bill). REPUBLICAN BILL SPONSORS:
    Greg Delleney (Chair House Judiciary), Dennis Moss (2nd Vice Chair House Judiciary), Bruce Bannister, Eric Bedingfield, Gary Clary, Russell Fry, Wallace “Jay” Jordan, Peter McCoy, Chris Murphy (not good on this bill), W. Weston Newton, Rick Quinn, Eddie Tallon
  3. Contact Your SC Statehouse Rep. Ask them to oppose the bill and pull their sponsorship if the language referencing the “What is Anti-Semitism Relative to Israel?” is not removed.  Most members of the SC House have co-sponsored this bill, but probably don’t realize it is a Trojan Horse for censorship of discussion of Israel/Palestine on SC campuses. Look up your State Rep here: www.scstatehouse.gov
  4.  Read to write an op-ed?  Contact david  [@]  carolinapeace.org

RESOURCES:

Op-Ed: Anti-Semitism Bill Would Chill Legitimate Criticism by Kristen French http://www.statehousereport.com/2017/02/23/french-anti-semitism-bill-would-chill-legitimate-criticism/

In 2015, right-wing pro-Israel groups tried to get the University of California system to adopt the exact same State Department definition of anti-Semitism in H.3643   ….with the same agenda.  Article from 2015: “Could California Ban Anti-Israel Protests as ‘Anti-Semitic’ Hate?” http://forward.com/news/national/309450/what-is-anti-semitism/

How a similar loose definition of anti-Semitism was used recently to censor legitimate discussion of Palestine/Israel at a UK university http://www.timesofisrael.com/citing-anti-semitism-uk-university-nixes-israel-apartheid-week/ 

“Should a major university system have a particular definition of anti-Semitism?”  Kenneth Stern, author of the definition that the State Department definition of anti-Semitism is based on, argues no.
http://jewishjournal.com/opinion/175207/

Jewish Voice for Peace, lengthy report describing the politics of censorship on campus: Stifling Dissent http://stiflingdissent.org/

 

 

[Photo: Rep. Alan Clemmons meets Israeli settler leader Gershon Mesika.  Mesika was later involved in the killing a Palestinian teenage girl he claimed was attacking with a knife.  He struck the girl with his car; while she was on the ground, an Israeli soldier shot her dead.  Clemmons is committed to an extremely racist, far right pro-settler ideology and even organized a pro-settlements tour of the West Bank for fellow SC Statehouse legislators in December of 2014.]

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Refugee Task Force Holds Winter Clothing Drive

South Carolina is famous for its mild winters.  But we still have to bundle up for the cold, which can be a problem for those from even warmer climes…  or those forced to leave everything behind.

Carolina Peace’s Refugee Task Force is holding a Winter Clothing Drive for Refugees now through Friday March 10th.  Most refugees arrive with very few possessions.  Please donate winter clothes of all sizes.  We also welcome donations of children’s clothing.  Items benefit refugees resettled here in South Carolina.

DROP OFF LOCATIONS:

Redeemer Lutheran Church
WEDNESDAYS 6PM-8PM
(February)
525 St. Andrews Rd Columbia

2931 Blossom St.
Columbia, SC
Please leave items  in box on porch.
Look for sign saying REFUGEES WELCOME!

Reformation Lutheran Church
FRIDAY March 10th 10 am-Noon
1118 Union St. Columbia, SC
If you would like to give your donation directly to a refugee family, please join us 10am at Reformation Lutheran Church.

Another Location, Arrange a Pick Up
Text 817.881.8199 for Katrina.
____
Email: Refugee Task Force, rtf@carolinapeace.org
Facebook: South Carolina Welcomes Refugees

Fasting Clemson Professor Presents Nonviolence Workshop

Carolina Peace Resource Center local chapter the Upstate Peace Network held a Nonviolent Resistance Workshop on Tuesday Feb 7th at the Hughes Library in Greenville, SC featuring Clemson professor Todd May, author of many books including one on nonviolence informed by decades of participation in nonviolent movements.  The event was a model

of coalition building: Upstate for Equality, Greenville Black Lives Matter, Piedmont Humanists, and From the Ground Up were among organizations co-sponsoring the event. The library meeting room filled quickly. Event organizer Max Burgess with the Upstate Peace Network gave brief introductory remarks, then Greenville Black Lives Matter presented a short slideshow of women in the civil rights movement. An energetic thin bald white man, smartly dressed and with glasses, Todd May then took the floor, warming the crowd with self-deprecating humor about his New York Jewish roots. Continue reading “Fasting Clemson Professor Presents Nonviolence Workshop”

Thousands gather at Jan. 21 “Stand Up” rally


Thousands of South Carolinians of all ages, genders and races joined together at Columbia’s State House and Music Farm concert venue with millions of others worldwide to rally for women’s rights and other causes on Jan. 21, one day after the inauguration of now-President Donald Trump.

The rally was in partnership with the Women’s March on Washington
D.C., and was also part of the South Carolina Progressive Network (SCPN) Stand Up Rally. The event advocated for progress in a number of social justice areas, and attendees were encouraged to be engaged and become involved in making this progress happen.

Continue reading “Thousands gather at Jan. 21 “Stand Up” rally”

Civil rights elder preserves S.C. history

Cecil Williams stands in front of his home studio in Orangeburg, S.C. in October, 2016.

In elementary school, Cecil Williams photographed lawyer Thurgood Marshall’s early efforts to desegregate public schools. In high school, he documented the ‘60s civil rights sit-ins. As a young adult, he covered Harvey Gantt’s 1964 desegregation of Clemson University, the aftermath of the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre and the 1969 strike by Charleston hospital workers.

“The saying goes: A picture is worth a thousand words. But no. I say a good picture, a storytelling picture is worth a thousand words,” said Cecil Williams, a 78-year-old civil rights photographer.

Continue reading “Civil rights elder preserves S.C. history”

Kenneth Campbell on Black History Month

Each of the past few years, I have made presentations to youth groups celebrating African American history, particularly during the month of February, which we recognize as Black History Month. These groups include Scouts, mentoring programs, and church groups.

In each presentation, I make it a point to say that Black History is American History. If American History were taught as such, we would not need Black History Month or presentations. But, sadly, it isn’t.

Continue reading “Kenneth Campbell on Black History Month”

A Thousand Protest Trump Executive Orders on Refugees, Travel Ban

On Tuesday January 31, the Carolina Peace Resource Center held a United We Stand: Immigrants and Refugees Welcome Rally at the South Carolina State House. The rally was a protest against the executive orders signed by President Trump that curtail refugee resettlement and indefinitely suspended resettlement of refugees from Syria as well as instituting a travel ban from seven nations into the United States.
Close to a thousand people attended the protest, forming an expansive sign line across the State House grounds. Carolina Peace provided materials for protesters to craft their own signs, and the finished products combined with signs brought by other attendees to make a visually stunning show of support for immigrants and refugees.

Carolina Peace President David Matos led the crowd in cheers that welcomed immigrants and refugees. After his initial remarks, the protesters lined Gervais St. to chant and hold signs for nearly two hours.

Local voices for peace attended the march, such as poet Nikky Finney, pictured above. The crowd made an impressive sight to passersby and vehicles driving by the State House.

As the sun began to set, the crowd relocated to the grounds in front of the State House grounds to listen to several informational speakers including a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union and Omari Fox from Simple Justice: Black Lives Matter.

The crowd continued to rally and cheer on the grounds and the overall mood was one of goodwill and acceptance. Several local press sources covered the event. Below are links to articles about the event:

http://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/2017/01/31/donald-trump-statehouse-protest-sc/97289334/

http://www.postandcourier.com/news/crowd-of-about-gathers-in-columbia-to-protest-president-donald/article_690c23b4-e80f-11e6-b6d7-273522ccd18d.html

http://www.thestate.com/news/local/article129896284.html

Overall, the event was an exciting show of support for immigrants and refugees and an inspiring event for Carolina Peace. We are grateful for the outpouring of support that was shown and are excited to see what we can accomplish together in the future.

Greenville, Tue, Feb 7 – Nonviolent Resistance Workshop with Todd May

Get to the Hughes Library in Downtown Greenville for a Nonviolent Resistance Workshop with Todd May, Tuesday, February 7, 5:30 pm. The address is 25 Heritage Green Place, Greenville, SC 29601. Learn more & RSVP on Facebook.