Supporting Boyd Walker

Supporting Boyd Walker

To the editor: 

I would like to address two points Stephen Leeds raised in his letter “Pro-Palestine note was hostile” in last week’s Alexandria Times. 

1. Leeds calls for overly broad restrictions on free speech which go so far as endorsing limits on “hateful” speech. But hate speech crosses the line only when it directly incites imminent criminal activity or consists of specific threats of violence targeted against a person or group. 

Leeds’ overreaching restriction exemplifies why conservatives correctly criticize “wokism,” partly predicated on restricting any view some consider “hateful,” leading to radicalized students shouting down and shutting down controversial campus speakers. The European Commission is preparing legislation criminalizing hate speech. 

It is exactly against such a European mentality against which the American Founders mounted our Revolution and inscribed our First Amendment. We have a First Amendment to prevent shutting down a critique as “hateful” when it contains cogent evidence of wrongdoing, especially in this instance where the International Court of Justice at The Hague has found plausible the claim that the Israeli counterattack on Gaza involves genocide. 

2. Leeds also claims that critics attacking Israel are merely hiding their antisemitism behind a geo-political cloak. While it is possible that some critics of what the Israelis are doing are motivated by antisemitism, far from singling out Israel, the vast majority hold a consistently anti-colonialist view critical of Western imperialism and colonialism across the board. The Washington Post recently ran Benjamin Moser’s op-ed explaining why anti-Zionism is not the same as antisemitism. 

Moser pointed out: “Before WWII, Zionism was the most divisive and heatedly debated issue in the Jewish world. Anti-Zionism had left-wing and right-wing variants, religious and secular variants [and] variants in every country where Jews resided…. [C]onflation [of anti-Zionism with antisemitism] has nothing to do with history…. [but] to discredit Israel’s opponents as racists.” 

Do we really believe, for example, that IfNotNow, describing itself as “a movement of American Jews organizing … to end U.S. support for Israel’s apartheid system” and “Not in our name” Jewish peace activists staging a Capitol Hill sit-in are antisemitic? 

-Dino Drudi, Alexandria