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September 9, 2021 4:48 pm

St. Mary’s College Postpones Event With Professor Accused of Promoting Antisemitic Libel

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, California. Photo Credit: Wikimedia

St. Mary’s College has postponed an event featuring an Islamic law and theology scholar following complaints about antisemitic comments, the California Jewish newspaper J. reported on Wednesday.

University of California-Berkeley lecturer Hatem Bazian — whom the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recently criticized for retweeting a cartoon that depicted an Israeli soldier taking the heart of a dead Palestinian — was scheduled to appear at “How to Be a White Ally While Challenging Islamophobia” on Wednesday evening.

“Due to the multiple perspectives and information shared by members of our community, the organizers have decided to postpone the event until they can investigate further and decide how best to meet their goals for the planned event,” wrote President Richard Plumb in a campus-wide email sent before the virtual event, sponsored by the Center for Women and Gender Equity (CWGE), took place.

“Conversations have begun to address how to gather information, review the concerns surrounding the speaker and the community’s response, and move forward,” he said.

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According to the Moraga, California college, “How to Be a White Ally” was part of the college’s commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. It first addressed the controversy prompted by Bazian’s planned appearance in campus-wide email on Monday, according to J.

“We acknowledge the pain, anger and disappointment that many in our community are feeling,” said Interim Provost Corey Cook, Vice President for Student Life Anthony Garrison-Engbrecht, Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Kathy Littles and Vice President for Mission Frances Sweeney. “We are trying to be respectful and inclusive of the many members of the community affected, including the Muslim Student Association and our Jewish faculty, staff, and students.”

On Sept. 2, the ADL San Francisco said it was “appalled” at Bazian’s retweet of the political cartoon, which it said spread the centuries-old libel that Jews murder non-Jews to use their blood in religious rituals.

That criticism echoed a 2017 controversy surrounding the Zaytuna College co-founder and UC Berkeley lecturer, when he drew outrage among Berkeley Jewish groups after sharing two antisemitic political cartoons.

In one, a stereotype of a religious Jew was depicted 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 later apologized, saying, “As a Palestinian, my issue is with Zionism, a settler colonial movement and Israel’s policies directed at Palestinians under occupation … not with Judaism or Jews, as diverse communities.”

In calling for his removal at the time, a coalition of campus Jewish groups including Chabad, Bears for Israel, and Berkeley Hillel said that apology was insufficient.

“He chose to use his statement as yet another opportunity to attack Israelis, tokenize Jews, and whitewash his history of antisemitism,” the groups said in 2017.

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