In a new assault on free speech, the US front for Israeli group Shurat Hadin is asking the City Attorney of Los Angeles to sue California State University, Northridge mathematics professor David Klein.
The Global Frontier Justice Center claims that Klein is “misusing” state resources by using his university-hosted personal website to express critical opinions and calls for the academic boycott of Israel.
The Global Frontier Justice Center made the request after California Attorney General Kamala Harris rejected a similar request last month saying that there was no evidence Klein had done anything wrong.
Klein, an organizer with the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, became aware of the new effort to silence him when he received a copy of a 5 June letter from Meir Katz, a lawyer for the Global Frontier Justice Center, addressed to Carmen A. Trutanich, the City Attorney of Los Angeles.
Attorney General “abdicating her responsibilities” by refusing to crack down on Israel criticism
Klein provided a scanned copy of the letter to The Electronic Intifada. Katz’s letter recalls his group’s 2 April request to California Attorney General Harris for prosecution of Klein, and Harris’ response, which Katz criticizes (emphasis added):
On May 17, we received a response from Ms. Harris’ office. It claimed that Ms. Harris “carefully reviewed” our letter of April 2 and concluded that “the evidence [we] provided does not support a finding of misuse of [state resources].” This, of course, is impossible. The evidence is not in question. Perhaps Ms. Harris disagrees with our legal analysis, but she provided no contrary analysis. More likely, she is merely abdicating her responsibilities as Attorney General of the State of California.
Zionist group wants City of Los Angeles to act as censor on behalf of Israel
The letter goes on to request that the City of Los Angeles pursue Klein on behalf of the people of California, and suggests that the City could benefit financially:
As you know, CAL. GOV’T CODE § 8314 authorizes civil actions to be “brought in the name of the people of the State of California by the Attorney General or by any district attorney or any city attorney of a city having a population in excess of 750,000.” If the Attorney General does not wish to enforce the laws of her state, somebody must. We hope that somebody is you.
The statute continues: “If the action is brought by a city attorney, the moneys recovered shall be paid to the treasurer of that city.” The taxpayers of Los Angeles deserve to have this money that has been expropriated from them in violation of law to be returned to them.
Lawsuit would cost taxpayers, not gain them money
Not only has the California Attorney General already rejected the Global Frontier Justice Center’s spurious legal theory, but the claim that Los Angeles could gain financially is equally absurd.
Even if there were any merit to the claim that Klein were “misusing” state resources, the marginal cost of his university-hosted personal website is nil. Its existence almost certainly imposes no measurable financial burden on the State of California.
A politically-motivated prosecution or lawsuit against Klein, by contrast, would cost tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or perhaps even millions of dollars of public funds at a time when California is slashing basic services to its population.
The City Attorney’s office has not escaped these cuts. As the Los Angeles Times noted, Trutanich – who is running for District Attorney – “has had his budget slashed deeply, and like many city workers, his lawyers had to absorb furlough days. To the credit of his lawyers, though, many kept working without pay on their forced days off.”
Destroying free speech rights to protect Israel
Would any responsible official put unpaid lawyers on such a case? And for what? To create a nightmare regime where almost any online speech within California’s public universities would have to be expensively and oppressively policed by the state?
Klein told me that the latest assault by the Global Justice Frontier Center “is just one of many actions taken by the AMCHA Initiative,” a California Zionist group that collaborates with the Global Frontier Justice Center, “and other Zionist organizations during the past year to suppress free speech on California State University campuses when that speech criticizes the apartheid government of Israel.”
It is also unlikely to be the last.