Repression of Palestine Activism amid the War on Gaza


Abed A. Ayoub

National Executive Director, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

Asli Bali

Professor of Law, Yale University Law School; President, Middle East Studies Association (MESA)

Layla Kattermann

"Monitor" Project Manager, European Legal Support Center (ELSC)

Diala Shamas

Senior Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)


Yousef Munayyer

Head of Palestine/Israel Program and Senior Fellow

Arab Center Washington DC

About the Webinar

Longstanding trends of repressing Palestine speech and activism have increased by orders of magnitude as Israel’s war on Gaza continues. From student groups getting shut down to employees being fired to physical attacks on Palestine sympathizers, the last two months have featured a torrent of repressive activity in the United States and Europe.

Arab Center Washington DC and the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University are convening a panel of experts to discuss the most recent trends in repressing Palestine activism, strategies for defending the rights of dissenters, and expected future measures to silence Palestine sympathizers.

Event Summary

Abed A. Ayoub discussed the issue of hate crimes, intimidation, and incitement against Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim Americans following the start of the Israel-Hamas war. He said that there has been a spike in complaints by the three groups about a changed atmosphere, even from the post-9/11 period. He said that the current campaign has been in the works for a very long time, and it is likely to continue.

Diala Shamas spoke about the weaponization of counter-terrorism laws in the United States and the addition of new provisions to them by pro-Israel activist organizations, like the Anti-Defamation League. He said these organizations have decided that they will use this time to delegitimize any criticism of Israel and will use whatever is necessary to curtail pro-Palestine activism in society and on university campuses.

Layla Kattermann focused her remarks on the way European countries have dealt with the current situation and on how they used the accusation of anti-Semitism to stifle dissent and activism. Many European countries used their legal mechanisms against said activism, to threaten and intimidate, although the majority of court cases about anti-Semitic accusations were dismissed. She said Germany was the major prosecutor of critics of Israel.

Asli Bali spoke about academic freedom as a victim of the campaign of intimidation against campus activists, saying that there were many manifestations of the impact. She said that many graduate assistants lost their positions, many others were disciplined, harassed, and threatened. Tenured faculty were attacked and told to resign. There were also external actors who contributed to the campaign of intimidation, as well as congresspeople who used their position of power to silence university administrators.

Featured image credit: Shutterstock/Insyirah Ishak


Tuesday December 12, 2023


1:00 PM - 2:30 PM ET