by William A. Cook
The California Assembly’s resolution passed on August 23, 2012, HR 35, purports to condemn “anti-Semitism” in public post-secondary institutions of higher learning by denying expression of opinions or statements that might be construed as expressing hatred of the Jewish people or critical of the state of Israel. Pamela Geller’s ad campaign quoted above, and placed in public vehicles in the city of San Francisco, expresses an opinion that demeans a group of people who are unquestionably Semitic by blood and language, yet would not be protected by the Assembly resolution since the term as defined is based upon the European Union’s definition that is exclusive, protecting Jews only.
The ad has created considerable reaction; a parallel poster expresses the same statement with a change of wording: “in any war between the colonizer and the colonized, support the oppressed, support the Palestinian right of return.” In short, Geller’s ad campaign began a dialogue that has illumined quite opposing perspectives: what is the meaning of civilized man on the one hand and what is the meaning of colonized on the other. Perhaps out of this dialogue understanding will arise. Freedom of expression triumphs.