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August 3, 2021 11:23 am
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More Anti-Israel Hatred Infests the University of North Carolina

avatar by Peter Reitzes

Opinion

Manning Hall at the University of North Carolina. Photo: benuski / flickr.

This coming Fall, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) is scheduled to offer a recurring course titled “The Conflict over Israel/Palestine,” taught by PhD student Kylie Broderick.

Broderick is an outspoken anti-Israel activist, whose prejudice against Israel is extreme.

On July 19, 2021, Broderick retweeted, “All of Israel is occupied Palestinian territory.” In other words, Broderick promoted the view that Israel should not exist.

In 2020, Broderick tweeted about teaching the “2 sides” of the “modern Middle East,” and clarified, “by ‘2 sides’ I mean there is only 1 legitimate side – the oppressed – versus imperialist propaganda. I don’t ever want to encourage them [students] to believe there is reason to take on good faith the oppressive ideologies of … Zionists.”

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On May 17, 2021, Broderick tweeted, “Everyone at UNC has a responsibility to step up for Palestinians & Palestine. Start following #BDS immediately. Boycott Israeli products. Investigate UNC’s investments. Agitate in your departments for Palestinian liberation.”

A few days later, Broderick made similar comments supportive of BDS in a local paper. BDS is the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel.

On May 14, 2021, Broderick tweeted, “Palestinians are being murdered for just being alive & bc [because] they’re inconvenient to Israel & its patron, the US imperialist death cult.”

Broderick also has a long history of making publicly crass statements. For example, Broderick tweeted, “Hello all my loyal followers. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you F*** YOU B**** I HATE YOU SUCK ON THAT thank you.”

Broderick’s advisor is Cemil Aydin, who is a Global History professor at UNC. On May 17, 2021, Aydin retweeted, “When I teach about apartheid in South Africa, I always have students who say, ‘I can’t believe the US supported the apartheid regime for so long.’ May I have future students who say the same about Israel-Palestine.”

In 2014, Aydin signed a letter “calling on scholars and librarians within Middle East studies to boycott Israeli academic institutions.”

UNC professor Sarah Shields also signed the letter.

Shields is the previous instructor of the Israel/Palestine course that Broderick is scheduled to teach. Shields has received many “awful” reviews at Rate My Professors. One reviewer expressed that Shields is “Stridently anti-American and anti-Israel. Do not take her if you want a balanced view of the recent history of the Middle East — she is completely biased.”

Another reviewer wrote about Shields, “Be warned — she is a strong and vocal critic of Israel. Her sympathies are completely pro-Palestinian, and she doesn’t try to hide it.”

Demonizing Israel is nothing new for UNC.

In 2019, UNC hosted and co-sponsored the “Conflict Over Gaza” conference, which made international news for featuring a rapper’s antisemitic performance. In response to an antisemitism complaint filed with the US Department of Justice stemming from this conference, UNC entered into a Resolution Agreement with the United States Department of Education (DOE) promising to address antisemitism.

In a 2019 letter to UNC’s Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz, the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights informed UNC of their obligation to adhere to the Resolution Agreement: “The Agreement requires the University … to take all steps reasonably designed to ensure that students enrolled in the University are not subjected to a hostile environment.”

Now that UNC is handing the Israel/Palestine course over to Kylie Broderick — who recently promoted the idea that Israel should not exist at all — it is clear that the demonization of Israel will continue at the university.

Students at UNC deserve an unbiased education that encourages and challenges them to form their own opinions, not to be simply indoctrinated against Israel.

This is not a free speech issue. This is an issue of severe, systemic, anti-Israel faculty bias at UNC.

By assigning anti-Israel and anti-Zionist instructors and professors to teach students about Israel, UNC is sending a message that continued bias, demonization, and hostility towards Israel is both desired and expected.

Peter Reitzes is a board member of Voice4Israel of North Carolina and writes about issues related to antisemitism and Israel.

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