A VoiceVoices

Press Release: Green Party Calls for Fight to Defend Free Speech on Many Fronts

for more information contact:
Christina Khalil at info@khalilforsenate.com
Barry Bendar at bbendar@msn.com or 609-276-3183
March 20, 2024
This is a critical time for freedom of speech in the United States. This issue surfaces in many different ways, at all levels of government, from the federal level, to the state level and even at the local level. For those who want to protect the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution and democratic rights that follow from it, speaking out about these threats to the freedom of speech is very important. The Green Party of New Jersey (GPNJ) has always fought to protect free speech and has no intention of backing down now.
 At a federal level, suppression of free speech takes place around issues such as the U.S. complicity in the killing of civilians in Gaza and those who speak out for a ceasefire in Gaza. Additionally, while the bill to ban TikTok is dressed up in concerns about protecting private data for US residents, one more sinister motive is that the platform cannot be controlled by the U.S. government. Jonathan Greenblatt, Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) pointed to TikTok a few months ago as “cause for concern,” because it revealed a big problem on the issue of Israel and Palestine. It is no longer a “left-right” division, he said, “but a “young-old divide.” Younger generations are withholding support for Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians in part because of the ability of TikTok creators to post photos, videos, and opinions on the on-going massacre. According to a poll conducted by Data for Progress and published on February 27, 2024, “Around two-thirds of voters (67%) — including majorities of Democrats (77%), Independents (69%), and Republicans (56%) — support the U.S. calling for a permanent ceasefire and a de-escalation of violence in Gaza.”
Apparently, this terrifies the U.S. power structure because this goes against current U.S. unconditional support for Israel in the on-going genocide occurring in Gaza.
State and local governments’ desire to limit the amount of information given out to residents is also a concern. In New Jersey. This means attacks on the Open Public Records Act or OPRA.. On Monday, March 11, two different committees, one in the New Jersey Assembly and the other in the New Jersey State Senate, moved two bills (A4045 & S2930) forward that would make it much more restrictive for New Jersey residents, attorneys, labor unions, or anyone to obtain information necessary to research governmental issues within the state. By Thursday, March 14th, the bills had been pulled, pending changes to them.
At the Assembly hearing,GPNJ Co-Chair, Barry Bendar stressed that any attacks on government transparency would have an even greater negative impact on the horrible voter turnout numbers in the state. He pointed out that the people’s faith in their government, not just at the state level, but at every level, is pitifully low, referencing experiences he’s had over the years in doing door-to-door canvassing, and that any attack on the people’s right to information on government goings on would further deteriorate said faith. Quoting the voter turnout in the last General Election in Ocean County of 20%, he asked “do you want these numbers to go down further?”. Bendar feels that the process is already too restrictive, and if any changes are made, it should be to streamline and modernize the process, removing the ability to have an OPRA request rejected because the wording may not match exactly what the government body is expecting, especially when the intention of the request is quite obvious.
“All of this should set off alarm bells,” said Christina Khalil, Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in New Jersey. “The New Jersey Law Journal article from 3/15/2024 indicated that without OPRA, vital information about what’s happening in New Jersey and in our local communities, would be much more difficult to obtain.”
In addition, Khalil stated, in NJ, Murphy signed “Elections Transparency Act” (A4372), in 2023. This Act allows the flow of more dark money into politics and creates barriers for taxpayers to ask and learn about who’s funding our politicians. Murphy also has complete control over the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).The same people are fighting to pass a gutted OPRA bill on top of it and control TikTok. This isn’t about privacy because our government allows Facebook to sell our information. They are fighting against our rights for free speech and the right for accurate information.
Added Khalil, “The Green Party always says ‘Follow the money and you will find out the truth’ and now it’s a fight against the truth. The people we voted into office should spend their time fixing issues in our state and country, not spending our tax dollars to take away our rights for free speech and to know the truth.”
“Also at the state level, the New Jersey Senate is set to pass S1292, a bill that effectively conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism,” said Madelyn Hoffman, international policy advisor to Christina Khalil and former GPNJ candidate for US Senate against Senator Menendez in 2018 and Senator Booker in 2020. “Passage of this bill appears imminent. It may very well have a chilling effect on all efforts in New Jersey to protest the on-going Israeli genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. We must do all we can to prevent passage of this bill in New Jersey.”
At an even more local level, there are multiple efforts to suppress the freedom of speech and right to peaceably assemble, for both community organizations and public high schools. We have seen this in Maplewood/South Orange, West Orange, Livingston, and Teaneck, to name a few school districts.
“Let me just quote from ‘Teaching While Muslim’ in response to the backlash received to a document sent out about Ramadan,” said Madelyn Hoffman. “The document reads, ‘We strongly condemn the backlash to the Ramadan document sent out to South Orange Maplewood School District (SOMSD) educators earlier this week. While several versions of the document exist, a brave administrator sent out one that centered the plight of Muslims amid global oppression-oppression that the United States has loudly and actively supported and participated in.Telling the truth is not inflammatory, but rather a vital aspect of shedding light on injustice. Several international institutions have referenced actions undertaken by the Zionist entity in Gaza as GENOCIDE. According to numerous reports, there is mention that, “Since the conflict began, the US has sent to Israel thousands of military equipment, including ammunition, vehicles, armaments, personal protective equipment, and medical supplies.” This is the precise definition of ‘co-conspirator’ and therefore, is not misinformation.”.
Lastly, in this round-up of efforts to prevent pro-Palestinian events, Livingston’s Superintendent recently took a promotional tour of Israel and the school hosted a talk about his trip. So far no equivalent event about Palestine or the Palestinian perspective has been allowed to take place.”
GPNJ is concerned about the amount of intimidation and harassment being directed at high school students, particularly Muslims and allies who are calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, a position supported by a majority of US residents polled. These efforts to suppress free speech and the right to peaceably assemble could have a very detrimental effect on the ability of students and community to participate in demonstrations, rallies and teach-ins..