[News] UC Berkeley Reinstates Course on Palestine

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Sep 19 15:40:11 EDT 2016

  UC Berkeley Reinstates Course on Palestine

September 19, 2016 - 

Dylan Fahoome, Palestine Legal
media at palestinelegal.org

University of California Berkeley (Cal) reinstated a student-led course 
<http://palestinelegal.org/s/Palestine_DeCal_Syllabus.pdf>on Palestine 
this morning following an outcry over its arbitrary suspension last 
week. The suspension, taken in apparent response to pressure from Israel 
advocacy groups, was widely condemned -- by students, professors, and 
observers -- as a violation of academic freedom, shocking, and 

Palestine Legal sent a letter 
to Cal Chancellor Dirks Friday, on behalf of Paul Hadweh, the student 
facilitator, warning that the suspension infringed on First Amendment 
rights and principles of academic freedom. The letter demanded immediate 
reinstatement and an apology to the students.

Executive Dean of the College of Letters and Science, Carla Hesse, 
announced in a statement that the course is reinstated.

“I hope we can now focus on the challenging intellectual and political 
questions that this course seeks to address,” said Paul Hadweh, the 
course facilitator and Cal senior whose family is originally from Bethlehem.

“I await an apology from Chancellor Dirks, and Dean Hesse,” explained 
Hadweh. “The university threw me under the bus, and publicly blamed me, 
without ever even contacting me. It seems that because I’m Palestinian 
studying Palestine, I’m guilty until proven innocent. To defend the 
course, we had to mobilize an international outcry of scholars and 
students to stand up for academic freedom. This never should have happened.”

Liz Jackson, staff attorney with Palestine Legal who represents Paul 
Hadweh, added, “This is a victory for Paul who spent spent 8 months 
going through all the recommended and mandated procedures to facilitate 
a course. It’s also a victory for the 26 students who enrolled and had 
their academic studies severely disrupted, and for students and scholars 
across the U.S. who are facing a coordinated attack on the right to 
speak and study freely about Palestine-Israel.”

Echoing the concerns of Israel advocacy groups, Cal Chancellor Nicholas 
Dirks had justified the suspension with concern that Hadweh’s course 
“espoused a single political viewpoint and appeared to offer a forum for 
political organizing.”

Jackson explained, “The university’s response should have been that 
academic freedom protects the rights of faculty and students to tackle 
difficult and even controversial questions. The extra scrutiny on 
scholarship relating to Palestine is obvious here. The university does 
not censor Israeli studies classes because they have a ‘political 
agenda’ or ‘ignore history’, although that case can also be made.”

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