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September 1, 2016 1:38 pm

Campus Watchdog: Upcoming ‘Palestine’ Course Will Increase Antisemitic Atmosphere at UC Berkeley

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A flier for UC Berkeley's student-run course "Palestine: A Settler Analysis" features anti-Israel maps. Photo: Facebook.

A flier for UCB’s student-run course “Palestine: A Settler Analysis” features anti-Israel maps. Photo: Facebook.

An upcoming “anti-Zionism” course at the University of California, Berkeley will contribute to greater hostility toward Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus, the head of a watchdog group and an Israel advocate told The Algemeiner on Thursday.

According to Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative — which combats, monitors and documents antisemitism at institutions of higher education in America — the course in question, titled “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis,” is a “classic example of antisemitic anti-Zionism.”

“Based upon the syllabus, the class treats Israel as a settler colonial state and Zionism and Israel as illegitimate,” Rossman-Benjamin told The Algemeiner, adding that “a goal of the class appears to be talking about ways to decolonize Palestine, which essentially means to eliminate the Jewish state.”

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“This is clear eliminationist anti-Zionism, which is not just criticism of Israel, but opposition to the existence of the Jewish state with efforts to eliminate that state,” she said.

Lily Greenberg Call, a Jewish UC Berkeley student who serves as a CAMERA Fellow and is the co-vice president of the campus group Bears for Israel, told The Algemeiner that she became “very upset” after seeing posters advertising the class.

“It’s one thing to have a political group like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on campus, but teaching material that is so biased and factually inaccurate in a classroom setting violates academic integrity,” she said.

“Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis” is being offered as a “DeCal” course, which is part of a program of student-run classes that falls under the jurisdiction of UC Berkeley’s Academic Senate. According to a description of the course — which acknowledges “contentious” material will be taught — the class will:

…[E]xamine key historical developments that have taken place in Palestine, from the 1880s to the present, through the lens of settler colonialism…we will explore the connection between Zionism and settler colonialism, and the ways in which it has manifested, and continues to manifest, in Palestine. Lastly, drawing upon literature on decolonization, we will explore the possibilities of a decolonized Palestine, one in which justice is realized for all its peoples and equality is not only espoused, but practiced.

Students are also required to attend at least one event, on or off campus, “relating to Palestine.” 

The faculty sponsor of the course, Dr. Hatem Bazian, is the co-founder of SJP and a major supporter of the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). Bazian is a former fundraising speaker for the anti-Israel organization KindHearts, which was shut down by the US government in 2006 for its alleged ties to Hamas.

The course facilitator, Paul Hadweh, is a Palestinian student instructor who hails from Bethlehem and is an active member of UC Berkeley’s SJP chapter, which, among other things, calls for an end to the “Israeli system of apartheid and discrimination” and “Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

In November 2015, Hadweh helped organize an event featuring anti-Zionist poet Remi Kanazi, a supporter of USACBI. In a 2012 Facebook post, Kanazi wrote, “Dear Zionists: You have never ‘defended yourselves.’ You came in, stole land that wasn’t yours & maintained a racist state through massacres and brute force.”

Hadweh's Facebook post promoting "Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis."

Hadweh’s Facebook post promoting “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis.”

In his promotion of the course on Facebook, Hadweh wrote he will take students on an “in-depth” exploration of “the history and present of Zionist settler colonialism in Palestine.” The post was accompanied by an image featuring infamous anti-Israel maps that have been decried as distorting history.

According to Rossman-Benjamin, “You just need to take a look at the instructor, facilitator, authors of the reading materials and listed guest speakers to see that the course is biased and presents an egregious framework against Israel.” Furthermore, she noted, “Not one reading or guest lecturer isn’t a virulent anti-Zionist, absolutely opposed to the existence of the state of Israel and supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”

Reading material includes selections from works by anti-Zionist Israeli historian Ilan Pappe; the late Edward Said, a fierce Israel critic; and Saree Makdisi, an advocate of the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. Also, there are testimonies from the controversial and widely debunked Israeli group Breaking the Silence.

“As seen from the syllabus, the class doesn’t look at Israel and ask if it is a settler colonial state or if Zionism is a legitimate ideology,” Rossman-Benjamin said. “The starting point is that it is illegitimate. This is completely one-sided and has a clear anti-Zionist bent, to the extent that it opposes the existence of the Jewish state.”

Greenberg Call said that the course framework is “insulting and ignores the indigenous nature of the Jewish people to the land of Judea/Palestine. Any historian will tell you that there is endless proof of this.”

She also told The Algemeiner that she finds it “concerning” that the course has “a strict no-technology policy — no phones, voice recordings or photographs — which makes me worried that some of the content will be inherently anti-Israel and as such, the facilitators don’t want to make it public in any way.”

While the course is ultimately protected by academic freedom, Rossman-Benjamin said, “a deeper problem must be addressed.”

Citing the UC Board of Regents Policy on Course Content — which prohibits “misuse of the classroom by…allowing it to be used for political indoctrination” — she said the course “very clearly is being used for such purposes. And on those grounds, I call on UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks to take a close look at it to determine whether it is in violation of Regents policy.”

According to a recent AMCHA report, which studied antisemitism across US college campuses, the presence of three specific factors — anti-Zionist student groups; faculty who support boycotts of Israel; and pro-BDS activity — are strong predictors of anti-Jewish hostility.

Rossman-Benjamin told The Algemeiner that “with a course like ‘Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis,’ even though the expression takes place in a classroom, it creates an overall hostile climate for Jewish students” that she believes can lead to violent anti-Jewish activity, including assault, suppression of rights and discrimination.

“Just because the classroom door closes, it doesn’t mean that students are not influenced,” she said. 

In response to the above concerns, UC Berkeley Assistant Vice Chancellor Dan Mogulof, from the Office of Communications and Public Affairs, told The Algemeiner:

I want to state without reservation or equivocation that this university is committed to fostering and sustaining a campus climate where every individual feels safe, welcome and respected.

In a recent survey, 75 percent of our Jewish students reported feeling comfortable on this campus — a number that is identical to the campus average and two points higher than comfort levels reported by students with a Christian affiliation.

However, we believe we can do better still, not just for Jewish students, but for all of our students. That is but one of the reasons we recently took the unprecedented step of forming Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Jewish Student Life and Campus Climate, a group that includes students, faculty, staff and leading members of the Bay Area’s Jewish community who are joining us in this important effort.

Berkeley also takes great pride in our our new kosher dining facility; vibrant Hillel chapter; the broad range of other Jewish student groups; the Institute for Jewish Law and Israeli Law at the Berkeley law school our library’s Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life; and our world class Center for Jewish Studies.

Suffice it to say that we will continue to confront intolerance, bias, and we are in full support of the Regents recently issued Principles Against Intolerance.

Hadweh did not respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment by press time.

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  • Daniel תשובה‎‎ Yonas

    In case anyone needs an education in geography tiny little Israel where
    the Jews can live must be 1 over 100th the combined land mass sizes of
    arab muslim lands which include Algeria,Egypt, Libyia, Morocco, Tunisia,
    Iran,Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria where no Jews or even
    christians would feel welcome. And the Palestinians could live in any
    of these countries I list. And yet the Palestinians, their terrorist
    organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah backed by Iran seek to eliminate all
    the jews in Israel. Now I ask you in all fairness, could not the muslim
    arab palestinians live in the other 99.99% of the land available to
    them?

  • V Lenin

    Howdy

  • V Lenin

    Israel

  • Jackson Gilder

    What always seems to be left out of the discussion on Palestine is the period between the founding of the Zionist movement in Europe and the UN partitioning and establishment of the state of Israel. That is the period that the European Zionists determined Palestine to be their “Jewish state” and set about to colonize it. If this period is omitted it essentially moves the goalposts to the response of the colonization and builds on the myth of Israeli victimhood. If an educational institution wants to teach mythology it should change its status from being an educational institution to being a religious university instead.

  • David Cartier

    Guest lecturer Keith Feldman needs to be called out. I hate Quislings. There are far to many of them.

  • ridiculous

    this isn’t a class, it’s a decal. that means it’s facilitated and taught by students. a faculty sponsor is someone who helps the facilitators should they need it. they don’t teach the class.

    anyone who thinks that what’s happening to palestinians is okay are themselves practicing hate, ignorance, xenophobia, and racism. one class that offers the other, much smaller and less powerful, side a voice and perspective, is totally right and okay and equitable in doing so. you all are so full of yourselves

    • Bluemanta

      Teaching a different perspective on any issue is perfectly fine and actually expected from any educational institurion. Differences and different point of views is what helps our society to progress and evolve.

      However, when you teach how to wipe out a country or how to eliminate Jews, that is not a different perspective but rather pure hatred and ignorance.

      Obviously, you did not read the content of this class or you simply choose to ignore it.

  • Joan Wine

    Enough replying! Instead, write letters of protest to the regents, the chancellors, & everyone connected to this university & all UC Universities. Send the letters to people you know to do the same! Alumni donors should be contacted, regardless of faith. Remember, no action assumes acceptance!

  • Don’t expect a similar “course” on ethnic cleansing of Christians, Jews and other religious minorities in Muslim-dominated societies.

    • Hanna

      why not? such a course is more than necessary these days. a course on “Arab Islamic invasion and colonization of Middle East and Africa” is a good response to the hateful Islamist-leftist propaganda that Islamist and European countries are spreading against Israel on U.S campuses. They are sending students here to spread their anti-Jewish anti-Israel propaganda. they want the destruction of Israel and the Jihadist wars they are waging on Israel from Lebanon and Gaza are not their only style of Jihad.our Universities should not turn into their Leftist-Islamist jihad bases.

  • We should encourage our Jewish students(and community members if allowed to audit)to attend the class.

    We should come educated and prepared to present our narrative during classroom Q&As. If not allowed in the classroom we should consider providing free educational material, host film nights and pass out flyers that list educational websites.

    The simple goal is to be sure the attendees know there is another point of view that they are not able to hear via this class.

    • Hanna

      The problem is that most Jewish students, like most normal students do not go to college to launch political wars on other nations, or fight the political views of other people. They go to study science and technology and even politics in order to make themselves and the world a better place. but these Islamist students are specifically trained and then sent to Western universities for the purpose of spreading anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hate and propaganda. They have been raised with radical Islamic and Leftist brainwashing from early childhood and do not not need to learn how to spread their lies. But Jews do not raise their kids to be warmongers and liers.

  • Richard Galber

    I went to a similar type of workshop as SOAS in London organized by a staff member. Its content when referencing Israel was anti to the extreme; in fact the concept was that Israel should disappear.
    I was called racist pig’ for disagreeing about BDS and then I was publicly shunned and ignored until I left at the end of said workshop.
    Their concept is not peace but the eradication of Israel. When I said that, nobody denied it; they all just smiled knowingly

  • Harold Pomerantz

    Ryan Bellerose wrote:

    Here’s my simple checklist for colonizers and imperialists.

    Did you force your language on other peoples?
    Did you force your religion on others?
    Did you claim and subsume others sacred sites?
    Do you deny indigenous people the right to self-determination on land that you conquered?
    Did you conquer a large percentage of the known world?
    Are you an asshat?
    If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, chances are good that you are in fact a member of a colonialist imperialist people. The short version is did you take someone elses stuff and claim it as your own?

    “Dear Al Jazeera,

    Please remember that you are arabs, and not just arabs but muslim arabs, part of the worst group of colonisers and imperialists that ever roamed the earth being asshats. You subsumed or conducted genocides on all the indigenous people of the middle east, forced your language, customs and religions on peoples as varied as the Persians, Kurds, Amazigh and Yezidis, and I am not even gonna go into how you treated the Jews. So yes while I think that colonialism needs to be talked about honestly and openly, I hardly think Qatari or Saudi apologists are the ones to do it.

    absolutely no regards
    an Indian who knows better”

    • Hanna

      so true. We should copy this letter and publish it in every newsletter and post it on every board on U.S campuses for all the Leftist and Islamist hate-mongers to see and stop supporting Arab Islamic colonialism. Maybe they will even start condemning the apartheid Arab socialist Syrian government’s killing and torturing hundreds of thousands of Syrian people and forcing milliions of them to become refugees and start condemning the socialist government of Venezuela for starving millions of people, and condemn Arab Muslim colonizers like Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Iran for supporting ISIS and other Islamist groups’ terrorism and their forcing non-Muslims of the Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and..out of their homes and occupying their homes and lands.

      • A Jew with a View

        Here is another letter that should be widely published. It is from King Abdullah of Jordan and written in 1947, attempting to make the case for the Arabs in Palestine. In doing so, he actually exposed Arab xenophobia, Jewish historical claims to Palestine and the imperialist conquest of the land by the Arabs.

        “In 63 BC the Jews were conquered by Roman Pompey, and never again had even the vestige of independence. The Roman Emperor Hadrian finally wiped them out about 135 AD. He utterly destroyed Jerusalem, rebuilt under another name, and for hundreds of years no Jew was permitted to enter it. A handful of Jews remained in Palestine but the vast majority were killed or scattered to other countries, in the Diaspora, or the Great Dispersion. From that time Palestine ceased to be a Jewish country, in any conceivable sense…In any event, the great Moslem expansion [aka Conquest] about 650 AD finally settled things. It dominated Palestine completely. From that day on, Palestine was solidly Arabic in population, language, and religion. [In other words, the Arabs did to the inhabitants of Palestine what the Europeans did to Native Americans]…
        If solid, uninterrupted Arab occupation [he admits that the Arabs are occupiers] for nearly 1,300 years does not make a country “Arab”, what does?”

  • This very basis of this course is a falsehood, that Israel has never existed or that Jews have never lived continuously in Palestine- Israel for a length of time, that of course saw the birthplace of Judaism.
    In fact there would be no Middle East at all without Israel. There is no Islam without Israel and there no Mecca without Israel. Where is Medina without Israel. There is no territorial concept called Palestine without Israel since said concept was coined by a colonialist who named said territory after an enemy of Israel; the term is found in its original form — describing a giant of sorts — in the text detailing the life and story of one people: Israel. You can’t even utter ‘free palestine’ without simultaneously invoking the ancient history of Israel. This course is a page out of Nazi Germany… Eradicating facts, historical facts eliminating Jews from Palestine Israel. PULL YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS, pull your students. Nazi U does not beling in the 21st century

  • How can these antsemites teach a course on something that never existed.

  • Joshua

    Will UC Berkely be running a course on the impact of atheism on Flat Earth Movement of the 19th, 20th and 21st Century- A feminist perspective?

  • Once the bacteria has spread through the body, the infected body will weaken and die.

    That’s what’s happening on US campuses!

  • Stuart Hersh

    The sole principle of UC Berkely’s existence, as well as academic institutions, is to educate and not indoctrinate.

    Many American universities no longer hold this principle. Rather, they permit the indoctrinational methodology practiced by the Palestinian Authority’s and Hamas’ educational system and Goebbel’s Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment – complete with the anti-Semitism cloaked in “anti-Zionism.”

  • Jay Lavine

    The fallacy of the colonialist argument, as alluded to by Greenberg Call, is that Jews have had a continuous presence in the land of Israel for millennia, with 19th century surveys of the old city of Jerusalem indicating that Jews were the majority living there. Palestine was a land of many peoples, but Jews were always prominent among them, and many more Jews would have lived there had it not been for the incredibly hostile living conditions. In countries where colonialism occurred, on the other hand, the colonizers were not part of the indigenous population.

    In the recent survey of Jews and Christians on the Berkeley campus, one must ask whether Jews were defined as people adhering to a specific faith, as I’m sure Christians were defined, or whether some sort of ethnic definition used.

    Berkeley is said to take great “pride” — a warning sign right there for anyone of Jewish or Christian background. Then we have that ubiquitous PR term “world class” thrown in. You know what that means.

Algemeiner.com