Students Sue University of Massachusetts Over Pro-Palestine Event
A group of students have filed a lawsuit against the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for hosting an on-campus event that some are calling “anti-Semitic” and “anti-Israel.”
The suit, filed by attorney Karen Hurvitz in Suffolk Superior Court on Thursday on behalf of three students, is seeking an emergency preliminary injunction on the event titled “Israel, Free Speech, and the Battle for Palestinian Human Rights” which is supposed to take place on May 4, The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported.
The event will feature Palestinian rights activist, Roger Waters, Palestinian-American political activist Linda Sarsour, professor and political commentator, Marc Lamont Hill, and Dave Zirin, sports editor at The Nation magazine.
“These departments are basically sponsoring a hate-fest. They need to move this rally off campus and not sponsor it in any way,” Hurvitz told the Boston Herald.
“If the Preliminary Injunction is not granted, and the anti-Semitic rally detailed in the Complaint is allowed to take place, Plaintiff students will suffer immediate and irreparable harm,” Hurvitz added.
The event has received backlash from various pro-Israeli groups including the Anti-Defamation League, who, in a letter, urged the university to stop it from being held.
“The program, featuring speakers who engage in rhetoric that demonizes the State of Israel and seeks to marginalize its supporters, has raised significant consternation among Jewish students and many others on campus and in the community, who not only care about Israel, but worry about civility on campus,” Robert Trestan, ADL regional director, wrote.
Meanwhile, the university has refused to cancel the event, citing its commitment to the principles of “free speech and academic freedom.”
“UMass Amherst is committed to fostering a community of dignity and respect and rejects all forms of bigotry,” a statement from the school reads. “Promoting the free exchange of ideas is one of the most important functions of the university. Our faculty members draw upon their fields of study and expertise to engage in the issues of the day, distinct from a personal political agenda.”
The university also clarified that the opinions expressed by event panelists do not represent the views of the school.