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The new right-wing repression playbook.


Every day, more and more people are recognizing that U.S. support for Israel’s genocide of Palestinians is indefensible. Our movement is larger than ever before.

And as we grow to truly historic proportions, we’re also facing a new level of state repression. In response, we must be clear-eyed about the risks we now face, which can and will have repercussions for the U.S. left for decades.

Slanders against our movement are gaining momentum, and getting translated into anti-democratic legal and legislative attacks. Our opposition, with the weight and might of the U.S.-Israel alliance and mega-donor groups like AIPAC behind it, is building new tools in order to crush our growing power.

In just the past few months, we’ve seen attempts to pass myriad new laws criminalizing protest and painting free speech as antisemitic, felony charges against students protesting in their own classrooms, a parade of university presidents called before McCarthyite Congressional hearings, and more.

In the face of this growing threat, our movement isn’t slowing down — but we do need to be paying attention.

State repression doesn’t appear out of nowhere.

Activists have been raising the alarm for years about accelerating state repression and a growing disregard in the U.S. government for the rights to free speech and protest, from the post-9/11 antiwar to Black Lives Matter movements and beyond. The U.S. government has not only cracked down hard on individual organizers, but has increasingly been introducing new legislation to criminalize and shut down entire social movements in a wide-ranging “war on protest.”

It starts with smearing us — but it doesn’t end there.

The movement for Palestinian liberation has always been clear in our goals. We are fighting for an end to genocide, an end to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, and freedom and a dignified life for all people. Our opposition can’t beat us on these moral terms — so they relentlessly smear and lie about our movement, manufacturing an uproar over protest slogans like “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

This obsession with language serves two purposes. The first is to distract from Israel’s constant, brutal, and indefensible violence against Palestinians by equating words protesting this violence with the violence itself. The second is to create a pretext for increasingly intense repression of pro-Palestine protest.

The repression playbook keeps growing. 

After slandering our movement as antisemitic and dangerous, the forces seeking to further an anti-democratic, right-wing agenda are pushing full steam ahead to codify this repression, seeing the putting down of pro-Palestine protest as an opening to further advance their authoritarian goals across the board. 

Expanding unconstitutional state surveillance.

After 9/11, U.S. surveillance agencies massively expanded their power to unconstitutionally spy on people in the U.S. Now, they’re openly seeking to use these same powers to spy on those protesting for Palestinian freedom. In a letter supporting the reauthorisation of Section 702 of FISA, legislation used to spy on private communications without a warrant, the ADL explicitly named the surveillance of student protestors as a benefit of extending the law.

Congressional hearings: The new McCarthyism.

In order to further the climate of fear and suppression of principled action in support of Palestinian freedom, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has now conducted a number of hearings with university presidents as the student movement has taken off. The next such hearing is on Thursday — but we’ve already seen enough to understand its purpose.

These hearings have consistently erased the subject of student protests: U.S. support for Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza. Instead, members of Congress are engaging in a new form of McCarthyism, opportunistically exploiting fears of antisemitism in order to further the fearmongering narrative of the supposed “violence” of teenagers protesting peacefully on college lawns to demand divestment from genocide.

Legislative attacks on free speech.

We’re now seeing a steady drumbeat of legislative attacks on the rights of people supporting Palestine — and they won’t stop there. Anyone advocating as a part of a social movement could end up being targeted.

The recently introduced Antisemitism Awareness Act would effectively outlaw criticism of the Israeli government, by using the false and dangerous IHRA definition to label such criticism as definitionally antisemitic. Another new piece of legislation is equally blatant in its bias, exploiting Islamophobic tropes to accuse charitable organizations in the U.S. of supporting terrorist organizations — something that all U.S. organizations are of course already legally barred from doing. This bill gives the power to strip 501(c)(3) organizations of their tax-exempt status, a threat that could be used not only against our movement, but any organization pushing back against U.S. government policy. The ADL has spent record amounts of money lobbying for both of these bills.

At the state level, a host of new laws are being introduced to outlaw and criminalize peaceful protest tactics, like blocking highways, that have been used since the Civil Rights movement. Some of these laws directly name JVP and partner organizations’ actions protesting Israeli genocide as examples of protest to be outlawed.

Legal warfare against people of conscience.

Following the trumped-up charges against Stop Cop City protestors in Atlanta, state prosecutors have been pursuing efforts to twist anti-crime laws to cover political action. Student protestors who were arrested in Gaza solidarity encampment sweeps are now facing a variety of charges, including felonies, for their participation in the protests. Often, prosecutors know these charges won’t stick. Their goal is instead to use the threat of prison time to harass and intimidate people into stopping their activism.

They’ll stop at nothing.

The goal is clear: to shut us down and maintain the U.S.-Israel alliance, at any cost. These machinations are a testament to the strength of our movement — we know as well as they do that the majority of the population is with us. Because they cannot defeat us politically, they must resort to brute force to try to stamp out our movement. 

Our movement is trying to force the U.S. government to sanction and divest from Israel, its key partner abroad. Billions of dollars are at stake. But so are millions of lives. It is an uneven playing field. It’s crucial that we recognize what we’re up against, and how the tools used to try to scare and silence us are being constructed, so that we may better fight for a liberated future for us all.

Tell Congress: Opposing genocide isn’t antisemitic.

Jonathan Greenblatt and the ADL have been on a crusade for years to defend Israeli apartheid by stifling free speech, falsely painting anti-Zionist activism as antisemitic at every turn, and putting a target on the back of anyone in solidarity with Palestine.

Now, the ADL is lobbying Congress to pass a law adopting a controversial, dangerous definition of antisemitism. 

Use this tool from our sibling organization JVP Action to tell your senators to stop this dangerous bill from becoming law.

What we’re doing.

The “Not on Our Dime!” Act would end the stream of funding from New York State to violent settler organizations linked to increasing attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank. It was just reintroduced in NY State — and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just came out in support.

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