[News] California professor under attack for hosting Palestinian lawmaker
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 1 11:05:35 EDT 2018
California professor under attack for hosting Palestinian lawmaker
<https://electronicintifada.net/people/nora-barrows-friedman> - 30 April
A UC Berkeley lecturer is under attack for hosting an event with a
Palestinian member of Israel’s parliament who challenged Israel’s claim
to be a democracy.
The campaign to punish Hatem Bazian in California comes amid renewed
attempts in South Carolina to codify a definition of anti-Semitism which
conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish bigotry.
On 17 April, Bazian facilitated an event
at UC Berkeley with Haneen Zoabi
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/haneen-zoabi>, a member of Israel’s
Zionist students are calling for the university to take disciplinary
action against Bazian for hosting Zoabi and defending the content of her
This latest attack is part of “an ongoing series of targeting BDS
activists and individuals who continue to do work on Palestine in the
US,” Bazian told The Electronic Intifada, referring to the boycott,
divestment and sanctions movement.
Haneen Zoabi is an elected politician who advocates
for Israel to give full, equal rights to all its citizens.
She is one of approximately 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/palestinians-israel>. They are the
survivors and their descendants of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of
Palestine. While nominally citizens with a right to vote and be elected,
they live under dozens of laws giving
<https://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/7771> them inferior status
because they are not Jews.
During her US speaking tour, Zoabi reportedly called
Israel’s claim to be a Jewish and democratic state “absurd,” citing as
an example Israel’s Law of Return – which bars Palestinian refugees from
returning to their homeland solely because they are not Jews, while
granting citizenship to anyone in the world Israel recognizes as Jewish.
She is one of a handful of politicians in the Israeli parliament who
challenge the state’s legalized discrimination against its Palestinian
citizens, its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Syria’s Golan
Heights, as well as the regular genocidal rhetoric against Palestinians
by Israeli leaders.
Because of this, she has faced unrelenting
by her Zionist Jewish colleagues in the Knesset, the Israeli media
<https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4178329,00.html> and by
Israel’s supporters abroad.
This week, lawmakers in the Knesset announced plans
to hold a hearing on Zoabi’s remarks
while in the US.
In a sign of the crackdown lawmakers who call for equal rights are
facing, the Knesset this month barred another Palestinian member
Yousef Jabareen, from traveling to the US for a lecture tour sponsored
by Jewish Voice for Peace. Jabareen is challenging the decision in court.
During the event at UC Berkeley, a group of Zionist students protested
Zoabi as she lectured by holding posters next to her, with one claiming
that she is “complicit in terrorism.”
The students wore T-shirts bearing the word “Zionist” in Arabic.
Students then sent a letter of complaint
to the university’s chancellor, demanding
Bazian face “immediate administrative action” for promoting an event
they described as “anti-Semitic.”
The Israel-aligned students also launched a petition calling on the
university to discipline Bazian.
The complaint alleges that Zoabi made “preposterous claims” about
Israel’s well-documented human rights abuses and expulsion of
Palestinians, and that Zoabi “openly called for the elimination of
Israel” – apparently because she was advocating for a state that does
not privilege one religious or ethnic group over others.
The group behind the smear campaign at UC Berkeley is Tikvah, a Zionist
campus group that has a long history of smearing Bazian and Students for
Justice in Palestine.
Students for Justice in Palestine launched their own petition
to defend Bazian against “the mischaracterization, bullying and blatant
racism” of Tikvah and off-campus Zionist groups “in their continued
attempts to suppress open discussion and honest academic analysis” of
More than 2,600 people have signed the petition in support of Bazian.
Bazian said he has faced relentless accusations of anti-Semitism meant
to silence his criticisms of Israel ever since he began teaching at UC
Berkeley as a graduate student in the early 1990s.
Zionist groups on and off campus may be ramping up these tactics due to
the pending confirmation of Kenneth Marcus
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/kenneth-marcus> to head the
Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
Marcus will have the authority to open new investigations against
students and faculty who are critical of Israel while determining
policies that could stifle speech and political organizing on US campuses.
Marcus, who has headed the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights, an
Israel lobby organization, is known for filing numerous civil rights
to the US Department of Education claiming that universities fail to
protect Jewish students by not cracking down on Palestine solidarity
Using a tactic Marcus pioneered, members of Tikvah filed a federal
with the Department of Education in 2012 against the University of
California, alleging that the university allowed “discrimination”
against Jewish students to occur by tolerating the “development of a
dangerous anti-Semitic climate on its campuses.”
The Department of Education threw out the complaint
in 2013 along with similar claims filed against the University of
An earlier version of the same lawsuit was dismissed
in 2011 by a federal judge who had determined that Israel advocates
failed to support their claims of anti-Semitism.
South Carolina censorship
It is no surprise that Marcus’ Brandeis Center is backing
legislation to define anti-Semitism at public colleges and universities
in South Carolina to include criticism of Israel and its state ideology,
The measure would codify a discredited
definition of anti-Semitism pushed
by Israel lobby groups in the US and Europe that conflates criticism of
Israel and Zionism with anti-Jewish bigotry.
This definition is sometimes referred to as the “State Department
because a version of it
by the US State Department.
Notably, the lead author
<http://jkrfoundation.org/about/kenneth-s-stern/> of the original
definition, former American Jewish Committee
executive Kenneth Stern
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/kenneth-stern>, has strongly
efforts to enshrine it in legislation, arguing that it could lead to
Yet the South Carolina measure, which was added as a rider on the
2018-2019 budget bill, would require
state-funded institutions to use this definition when investigating
alleged incidents of anti-Semitism on campuses.
Its chief sponsor is state representative Alan Clemmons
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/alan-clemmons>, a self-described
who holds pro-Israel views so extreme that he has attacked Jewish
students who criticize Israel as “anti-Semitic.”
If the legislation is enacted, students could face “increased scrutiny,
investigations, censorship and possibly punishment for speech and
activities that are critical of Israel and Israeli government policies,”
civil rights group Palestine Legal.
The law will “set up public colleges and universities to be required to
violate free speech rights,” Palestine Legal’s Rahul Saksena told The
While recent state-based legislative efforts
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/anti-bds-laws> to suppress the BDS
movement also violate the First Amendment, Saksena warned that “these
efforts to codify the so-called State Department definition of
anti-Semitism will have a much bigger and much more problematic impact
in terms of Palestine advocacy on the ground and on college campuses in
Palestine Legal notes that similar efforts to codify this definition of
anti-Semitism into law have failed due to constitutional concerns in the
and in Virginia
In 2016, the University of California adopted a vague statement
linking anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism, under pressure from Israel
Palestine Legal warned at the time that the wording, part of a report on
“intolerance,” would be exploited by those seeking to censor criticism
According to Bazian, Israel lobby pressure on the University of
California aims to criminalize speech and restrict freedom of expression
He said that challenging South Carolina’s pending legislation, as well
as the mounting attempts to censor speech by faculty across the US, is
“a prolonged fight.”
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