California Assembly to affirm campus speech rights after resolution against anti-Israel protests

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A state lawmaker on Wednesday promised to introduce a fix to an Assembly resolution that stirred controversy a day earlier because it urged California colleges and universities to crack down on demonstrations against Israel.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal said she would work on a resolution that affirms free speech rights on campus when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

“I’m not sure what all it’s going to say, but I think it will boil down to a celebration of the First Amendment,” the Long Beach Democrat said in a statement. “And it will make clear in no uncertain terms that students in our universities should feel safe to have differing opinions.”

Lowenthal and 66 of the Assembly’s 80 lawmakers provoked a storm of criticism after they approved a resolution Tuesday that condemned anti-Semitism but also asked administrators at California’s public colleges and universities to combat anti-Israel actions.

Republican Assemblywoman Linda Halderman did not mention Israel when she introduced House Resolution 35, which is symbolic and does not carry policy implications.

Free-speech advocates and Muslim groups took umbrage because the resolution appeared to label criticism and protest of Israel as anti-Jewish hate speech. On Wednesday, several groups sent letters to lawmakers condemning the resolution, including the Council on American Islamic Relations, the National Lawyers Guild and Jewish Voice for Peace.