Jewish Groups at UC Berkeley Call for Removal of Professor Who Shared Antisemitic Images
Jewish students at the University of California, Berkeley called on administrators to take action against a professor with a “history of anti-Semitism” on Thursday.
The coalition — comprised of the Chabad Jewish Student Group, Bears for Israel, Berkeley Hillel, and Tikvah: Students for Israel — expressed “outrage” over the “promotion of hatred and intolerance” by Hatem Bazian, a lecturer in the department of ethnic studies who shared a tweet in July accusing a “Zionist” of “apartheid, occupation, ethnic cleansing, genocide, theft Palestinian land+resources+body-organs.”
The tweet also included an image of a stereotype of a religious Jew, saying, “Mom, look! I is chosen! I can now kill, rape, smuggle organs & steal the land of Palestinians *yay* #Ashke-Nazi.” A second image featured North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un wearing a kippah and telling President Donald Trump that he needs to start receiving “welfare” because he “converted all of North Korea to Judaism.”
Bazian has since apologized for sharing the “wrong and offensive” images, which UC Berkeley said in a statement “cross the line” into antisemitism.
“As a Palestinian, my issue is with Zionism, a settler colonial movement and Israel’s policies directed at Palestinians under occupation and … not with Judaism or Jews, as diverse communities,” he wrote last month.
Bazian is a co-founder of the anti-Zionist campus group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and a chairman of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), one of SJP’s leading backers. AMP recently launched a campaign urging supporters to email UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ in support of Bazian, who they claim has been targeted by a “vicious campaign” by “zealous pro-Israel groups,” despite renouncing the antisemitic image.
However, according to the coalition of Jewish students at UC Berkeley, Bazian’s apology was “lacking at best.”
“He chose to use his statement as yet another opportunity to attack Israelis, tokenize Jews, and whitewash his history of anti-Semitism,” they wrote. “He also expressed no regret for the anti-Asian bigotry contained in the post he retweeted. Frankly, we question the sincerity of his apology and do not believe he has fully acknowledged the damage he caused.”
The students also noted that this was not the first time Bazian shared content accused of promoting anti-Jewish hate.
“Bazian’s record both recently and in years past demonstrates a consistent pattern of spreading or justifying anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry,” they charged, pointing to his past actions on and off social media.
These include sharing an image comparing Israelis to Nazis, insinuating that Jews control UC Berkeley, tweeting that the “Israel lobby manufactured [the] UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis,” and promoting a video in which Israeli soldiers were accused of killing “young Palestinians for their organs” — a charge the Jewish students called “a modern day blood libel which echoes the hateful tweet that came to light last week.”
“While we fully support academic freedom and free speech, we believe Bazian’s record is severe enough to warrant more than just condemnation,” the students wrote. They noted that there is a “precedent for the removal of non-tenured faculty who promote hate on social media and elsewhere,” pointing to such dismissals at Oberlin College, the University of Tampa, and John Jay College.
Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor at UC Berkeley, told The Algemeiner on Friday that “the additional information provided by the students raises important issues that merit further review, reflection and discussion.”
“As a next step we expect to schedule a meeting with the students to ensure we have the best possible understanding of their concerns and positions, while also ensuring there is a shared and accurate understanding of University policies and practices related to faculty conduct,” Mogulof added.
“As their letter suggests, the First Amendment of the Constitution protects even the most odious, hateful forms of speech,” he continued, “and as a public university, our legal obligations in the context of the First Amendment are far different than those of the private institutions they refer to in their letter.”
He said that UC Berkeley does, however, remain “mindful” of the University of California Regents’ “Principles Against Intolerance,” which call for “mutual respect and civility within debate and dialogue,” regardless of any “legal right to speak in a manner that reflects bias, stereotypes, prejudice and intolerance.”