Virginia Lawmaker: George Mason U Must Rescind Invitation to Host Conference of Anti-Israel Student Group With ‘Well-Documented Ties to Hamas’
George Mason University (GMU) must immediately rescind its invitation to host an upcoming conference held by a student group with “well-documented ties to Hamas and other terrorist organizations,” a Virginia lawmaker told The Algemeiner on Monday, explaining the impetus for his demand that the school, which he said has a “track record of antisemitism,” cancel the event.
Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33) of the Virginia General Assembly is among lawmakers and other prominent individuals and organizations who co-signed a recent letter to GMU’s president, calling for the cancellation of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) conference.
“SJP is an organization that incites violence and should not be allowed to use publicly funded facilities,” LaRock said. “I am a staunch supporter of the right to free speech, which is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. However, free speech is rightly limited to exclude incitement of violence. Exchange of viewpoints on controversial issues is important, and I have no problem with public discourse on any issue. The problem this letter addresses is when individuals or organizations choose to incite violence rather than engage in civil debate.”
Paralleling the issue to what he called today’s “serious and important debate on the role of law enforcement in our communities,” the Virginia delegate said such, “When anyone crosses the line to incite violence against law enforcement officers, that is unacceptable and illegal.”
Following more than two months of correspondence with GMU’s president and government relations team, LaRock said, he has yet to receive an official response to the concerns highlighted in the letter.
GMU administrators, he said, “demonstrate an unwillingness to differentiate between appropriate free speech and incitement of violence, even though the latter clearly violates their Code of Student Conduct and possibly Virginia law.”
The 2016 National SJP Conference is scheduled to take place November 4-6 and is being hosted by the group GMU Students Against Israeli Apartheid.
GMU, a public research university located in Fairfax, Virginia, did not respond to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment by press time.