[News] California professor under attack for hosting Palestinian lawmaker

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 1 11:05:35 EDT 2018


  California professor under attack for hosting Palestinian lawmaker

Nora Barrows-Friedman 
<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 
<https://www.facebook.com/tikvah.berkeley/posts/1870871959610131> that 
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 
Israel’s occupation.

More than 2,600 people have signed the petition in support of Bazian.

    Ramping up

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 
<http://brandeiscenter.com/our-view-follow-south-carolina/> pending 
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 
was adopted 
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 
Christian Zionist 
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 
Electronic Intifada.

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 
US Congress 
and in Virginia 

In 2016, the University of California adopted a vague statement 
linking anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism, under pressure from Israel 
advocacy groups.

Palestine Legal warned at the time that the wording, part of a report on 
“intolerance,” would be exploited by those seeking to censor criticism 
of Israel.

According to Bazian, Israel lobby pressure on the University of 
California aims to criminalize speech and restrict freedom of expression 
by faculty.

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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