Professor Sahar Aziz’s NJ Victory Over Lawfare Smear

Professor Sahar Aziz was named in the modern day McCarthy House Committee – the 2024 version being the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. They have made smearing aspersions toward Professor Aziz as well as Rutgers students around false definitions of anti-Semitism that conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. They probably picked the wrong civil rights attorney to throw these accusations at – this is not Sarah Aziz’s first rodeo. The link above is about a smear organization that brings accusations against Palestine rights advocates – apparently in this case unsuccessfully. The following is an excerpt from Palestine Legal that provided support to Sahar Aziz in this case.

Let us all continue to get each other’s back – there are many mechanisms in motion now threatening us with smear, legal attack, threats of violence both actual and innuendo dog whistle variety, a House Committee, local municipality and school board repressive actions, campus administrations directly connected to the Israeli genocidal military apparatus (Rutgers in its connection to Tel Aviv University) – a thug trying to entrap students on College Avenue, doxxing smears . . . and lets be aware of the actions that have already been taken against the collective “us” of this struggle – and prepare our continued mutual support! It is a sign of our success that the repression is growing. It shows that the system has been unable to significantly undermine us otherwise. But growing repression is also a warning of challenging days ahead. ed.

Anti-Palestinian Deborah Project Files Baseless Ethics Complaint Against Arab-American School Board Member and Law Professor

Updated on 12/27/23: Success! On December 19, the New Jersey School Ethics Commission granted the motion to dismiss the Deborah Project’s complaint in its entirety, finding that Aziz’s personal social media posts were political speech and had no connection to her Board of Education membership.

In her personal capacity, Professor Aziz made the following statement: “This malicious complaint is part of a broader anti-Arab and Islamophobic smear campaign that seeks to harass and intimidate me as the first and only Muslim and Arab woman elected to the Westfield School Board. Its dismissal is not only a victory for free speech, but serves as a reminder that hate has no place in our country. I hope this victory encourages more Muslims and Arabs to run for elected office because we have the same rights to engage in the political process as any other citizen.”

Professor Sahar Aziz, the first Arab and Muslim American woman member of the Westfield Board of Education and Distinguished Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School, is the latest target of baseless accusations attacking her speech in support of Palestinian rights.

The Deborah Project, a group with a history of engaging in lawfare against advocates for Palestinian rights, filed an amended ethics complaint against Aziz with the New Jersey School Ethics Commission in March 2023. Relying almost entirely on the distorted and widely opposed IHRA definition, the complaint alleges that Aziz’s social media postings in support of Palestinian rights on her personal Twitter account violated school board ethics obligations.

Aziz’s attorney, Matthew Giacobbe, filed a motion to dismiss in April, arguing that the allegations are meritless; unrelated to Aziz’s role as a school board member; and, “a ploy to dismantle Aziz’s academic scholarship and freedom of speech rights and censor any debate or criticism of Israel.” It also argued that the complaint is frivolous and thus sanctionable. Palestine Legal is providing legal and advocacy advice to Aziz.

“That the complainants’ briefs point only to speech and writings expressed in my capacity as a law professor evinces the real motivation behind this frivolous complaint – to censor me as a Middle East human rights scholar and advocate for Palestinian rights,” said Aziz, speaking in her individual capacity and not on behalf of the Westfield school board. “Not only does such abuse of the legal system threaten all Americans’ free speech rights, but it also furthers divisive stereotypes about Muslims and Arabs,” continued Aziz.

“The complaint is a blatant abuse of the ethics process to stifle speech and smear Professor Aziz for her scholarship and political expression,” said Amal Thabateh, Palestine Legal’s Michael Ratner Justice Fellow. “We urge the New Jersey School Ethics Commission to dismiss it accordingly. Failure to do so will only embolden those seeking to silence anyone who dares to speak up in support of Palestinian rights.”

Continue reading at this link.