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Anti-Israel film canceled after Montgomery College condemns it

College says it wants ‘safe space for true dialogue and understanding’

Montgomery College organizers of an anti-Israel film screening canceled the event shortly after condemnation from the school’s president.

President Jermaine Williams sent an email criticizing the film “Occupation of the American Mind,” saying it “depicts antisemitic tropes and fosters antisemitism.”

He wrote this in a campus-wide email after saying the Maryland community college wants to “foster a vibrant intellectual environment where diverse viewpoints are presented and critically examined.” However, the discourse must be “done with civility and in a way that creates a safe space for true dialogue and understanding.”

The 2016 documentary is critical of media outlets, including both Fox News and MSNBC, for the way they cover conflict in the Middle East.

The description states:

Narrated by Roger Waters and featuring leading observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. media culture, the film explores how the Israeli government, the U.S. government, and the pro-Israel lobby have joined forces, often with very different motives, to shape American media coverage of the conflict in Israel’s favor From the U.S.-based public relations campaigns that emerged in the 1980s to today, the film provides a sweeping analysis of Israel’s decades-long battle for the hearts, minds, and tax dollars of the American people in the face of widening international condemnation of its increasingly right-wing policies.

Williams (pictured) did not explicitly prohibit the screening but wrote in his April 16 email that “the organizers of this event should forgo its viewing.” The organizers of the screening did cancel their showing of the film, scheduled for that same day. The president’s comments drew criticism from a national free speech group.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression recently released a letter it wrote to Williams on May 10. FIRE wrote in an accompanying blog that Williams had recently told the group he supports free speech, after he criticized a professor’s panel, titled “Palestine and Africa[:] the historical relationship.”

FIRE wrote on May 13:

Ironically — or, in retrospect, perhaps not — the cancellation came not two weeks after Williams assured FIRE he was committed to protecting free speech on campus and would consider adopting a position of institutional neutrality. That supposed commitment came after we wrote Williams to criticize his March condemnation of the panelists, explaining that his statement would likely chill speech on campus because it implied such commentary would not be tolerated.

“Cancellation of the screening was an obvious goal and consequence of your campus-wide email,” FIRE wrote, quoting Williams’ email which said the school would not “tolerate antisemitism, Islamophobia, or any narratives or actions that breed hate.”

FIRE wants assurances of support for free speech and offered its aid in developing better policies.

MORE: Check out the Campus Cancel Culture Database

IMAGES: Montgomery College; OccupationMovie.org

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