Adonis Diaries

Palestine Advocacy Progress Year-in Review in 2021 USA human rights movement

Posted on: February 26, 2022

Palestine Legal Publishes Report on documented Trends in Palestine Advocacy and Backlash in 2021

Read our summary of the report below and view the full report here.

Executive Summary


As Israel escalated its violence against Palestinians in 2021, people across the United States responded by taking to the streets, making statements on social media, signing petitions, organizing events and academic discussions at high schools and universities, organizing boycott campaigns, and sharing their Palestinian identity and pride.

As people rose up in solidarity with Palestinians, Palestine Legal witnessed an intensification of repression strategies by Israel and its allies in the United States as they attempted to thwart a shift in public opinion in favor of Palestinian rights.

Palestine Legal responded to 280 incidents of suppression of U.S.-based Palestine advocacy in 2021.

This represents a 31% increase of incidents responded to from 2020, and a 13% increase from pre-pandemic numbers in 2019.

We responded to 67 legal questions from activists who were concerned their rights were threatened.

“We know Israel and its allies are desperate to suppress advocacy for Palestinian freedom because they can’t win the moral argument,” said Palestine Legal director Dima Khalidi.

“Israel’s repressive measures will fail because the movement will not be bullied into silence. More and more people of conscience understand that our fundamental rights are at stake if we don’t resist attacks on our movements.”


In eight years, from January 1, 2014, through December 31, 2021, Palestine Legal responded to a total of 1,987 incidents.

This data reflects only what was reported directly to Palestine Legal and is therefore not an exhaustive account of the suppression.

58% of incidents Palestine Legal responded to in 2021 targeted students and scholars at 81 campuses across the country.

42% of incidents Palestine Legal responded to took place off-campus.

This number represents a marked increase in the percentage of non-campus incidents compared to previous years, when non-campus incidents constituted an average of 20% of Palestine Legal case work.

This increase suggests that the wave of support for Palestinian rights—and the backlash it encountered—was less focused on campuses but came from many different sectors speaking out in solidarity with Palestinians during the Unity Uprising.

State and federal lawmakers introduced at least 34 legislative measures in 2021 aimed at silencing, condemning, or punishing advocacy for Palestinian rights. Only four of these measures became law.

These included bills targeting boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) as well as those adopting a distorted definition of antisemitism in an effort to shield Israel from criticism.

Several of the measures were introduced directly in response to Palestine solidarity actions in the spring and summer.

Our report documents the following trends with case studies of repression and resilience:

Unprecedented Wave of Solidarity with Palestinians, Predictable Backlash

Palestine Still an Exception at Universities

Censorship at K-12 Schools

Israel Has Meltdown over Ben & Jerry’s Boycott

Legislators Respond to Israeli Violence by Targeting Palestine Activism

Israel Blacklists Palestinian Civil Society Organizations

Palestine Activists Defeat Harassing Lawsuits

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February 2022

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