Attorney Richard Guttman’s November 12th letter – “First Amendment Protects Speech Found Offensive, Even Outrageous,” does not hold up why Jewish Voice for Peace and their affiliates, like Students for Justice in Palestine, should have been given space at the Montclair Public Library.
That’s because the writer’s own proofs, using “incitement” and “harassment” as agreed free-speech exceptions, actually support preventing that meeting. It’s also the reason why Christa Rapoport, chair of Montclair’s Civil Rights Commission, another lawyer, was entirely correct to present information about JVP on behalf of concerned residents seeking a Library Board review and who were trying to stop the controversial gathering.
I too, fully support free speech advocacy and want First Amendment protections in place to defend unpopular and controversial views being heard. However, the group(s) at issue here have now been kicked-off of multiple U.S. campuses. One reason being it seems, that they have effectively incited “lawless action.” A clear exception Guttman agreed supersedes free speech protections.
There are multiple examples of JVP/SJP members and supporters harassing, intimidating, and being physically threatening to Jewish students and to other supporters of Israel — all around the country. With members now justifying the October 7th barbarism against Israel, which a JVP leader called “legitimate resistance.”
As a result, Montclair Library’s Board and our own Town Council did not really protect the community, in particular Montclair’s Jewish residents. Rather than Mayor Spiller and Councilor Robin Schlager showing up at an Israel support rally on Walnut Street with just warm speeches, they could have taken more direct action. The council could have passed a resolution which determined Jewish Voices for Peace, with its masquerade title of pro-peace, its online social media run in part from Lebanon until recently exposed and with many Hamas terrorism defending non-Jews connected, actually posed a potential threat to public safety.
From this, the police could have prevented the meeting and the Library Board given legal justification to deny JVP space.
We should have welcomed instead the Northern New Jersey JVP/SJP branches trying to go to court after, to prove how their supporters have not harassed, or been physically threatening, to U.S. Jews and others defending Israel, with plenty of video-tape examples now to show them acting just so.
Regardless, rest assured that if a few local residents working on behalf of a group called say: ‘Freedom for White People’ – had asked for a meeting room at the library with an organizational goal to cleanse remaining native Americans from our shores — to fully free white conquering Europeans and to support the slaughter of native American descendants here as “legitimate resistance” (the Mid-East paradigm turned on its head), that the outcry among Montclair progressives would be so great, any issue over book banning again would long be forgotten.
Clearly, however, Montclair’s minority Jewish residents do not warrant that same passionate public defense or moral considerations.