Anti-BDS legislation has been enacted in more than 20 states now, in order to thwart a peaceful effort aimed at pressuring Israel to abide by international law and respect Palestinian human rights. The latest was an executive order signed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, requiring all firms with state contracts to pledge they won’t boycott Israel. Hogan explained order by fiat since it failed to pass in Maryland’s state legislature by saying his state had no place for “boycotts and threats.” What does it say about the state of our education when a governor can put boycotts in the same category as threats without understanding the protected and honored history of the former? Speaking of education, there is worse news for free speech: The assault on the right to advocate for justice for Palestinians or criticize Israel may be coming to the Department of Education, with the Trump Administration’s nomination of Kenneth Marcus to serve as Assistant Secretary of (we kid you not) the civil rights division. Yes, nothing says both “civil rights” and “education” like a man who doesn’t know the difference between the very real problem of anti-Semitism on the one hand, and conscientious human rights advocacy on the other. Marcus has been trying to turn Title VI of the Civil Rights Act into a vehicle to suppress political speech by conflating it with religious discrimination. The Department of Education has rejected all of his previous attempts to do this, but if his appointment goes through, it’s not too hard to imagine where we go from here. All who care about free speech and combatting anti-Semitism need to watch this closely.

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