Berkeley Bans a Palestine Class


UPDATE: Berkeley rescinded the suspension on Sept. 19.

Suspending a course in the middle of a semester is one of the most serious actions a university can take. On Sept. 13, Dean Carla Hesse of the University of California at Berkeley did exactly that to a student-taught DeCal class about Palestine.

DeCal stands for Democratic Education at Cal, an old-fashioned tradition where undergraduate students teach 1 or 2 unit courses, pass/fail, to their peers. The instructors, called facilitators, plan their own courses, which must be approved by a faculty committee and the chair of a department.

In a statement, Paul Hadweh, the student facilitator, declared:

I complied with all policies and procedures required for creating the course. The course was vetted and fully supported by the faculty advisor, the department chair, and the Academic Senate’s Committee on Courses of Instruction (COCI).

The university suspended the course without consulting me, the faculty sponsor, the chair of the department, or the Academic Senate’s COCI, which is responsible for approving all UC Berkeley Courses. The university did not contact us to discuss concerns prior to suspending our course.

Universities should never suspend courses in the middle of a semester except under the most dire circumstances, where a course has been proven to violate university policies and cannot be fixed, or some kind of extraordinary fraud has occurred.

Nothing like that exists in this case. In fact, nothing like that has even been alleged by the administration, which relies upon bureaucratic snafus to justify suspending this course.

On Sept. 14, UC Berkeley Assistant Vice Chancellor Dan Mogulof wrote to me that “The administration was first made aware of this issue last week when students, faculty and staff noticed posters for the course and expressed concern about the syllabus and, among other things, its compliance with Regents policy.”

InsideHigherEd likewise reported:

However, the public clamor was not the tipping point for Hesse’s decision, Mogulof said. She began her inquiries into the course last week, after a colleague raised concerns about the course to the dean internally. This occurred before public criticism began.

But it was two weeks ago, on Sept. 1, that Mogulof was quoted in a Jewish newspaper responding to concerns about the course from critics.

(UPDATE: Mogulof reports that his original timeline reported in the press was inaccurate, and that the administration first heard about the course on Aug. 26 from a faculty member. But this raises still more questions about a course that began on Sept. 6. If there were legitimate academic concerns about the syllabus, why not contact the instructor about them? Why wait 19 days and then suddenly ban the course? Hesse’s whole complaint is that the failure to deposit a copy of the syllabus with her office deprived her of the opportunity to examine it for problems. Now we find out that she had 11 days before the course started to examine the syllabus and she did nothing.)

The administration seems anxious to claim that their decision was made in reaction to the concerns of students, faculty, and staff on campus. But the truth is that Berkeley faced a global onslaught of organizations attacking them for allowing this course. In a letter to Chancellor Dirks on Sept. 13, 43 Jewish, civil rights and education advocacy organizations declared that the class was “intended to indoctrinate students to hate the Jewish state and take action to eliminate it:”

But interestingly, even these organizations did not call for suspending the course; they were solely focused on preventing a similar course from being approved in the future.

By this point, though, Hasse appeared to have a plan to save Berkeley from the bad publicity and put the blame on the student who proposed the course for failing to follow proper procedures. A few hours later on Sept. 13, she emailed the instructor and the faculty who approved the course, informing them that she had suspended the course. It was the first time she had contacted the student instructor.

Berkeley was quick to alert the press about the news, and to blame the student instructor.

Chancellor Dirks’ office emailed critics on Sept. 13:

It has been determined that the facilitator for the course in question did not comply with policies and procedures that govern the normal academic review and approval of proposed courses for the Decal program.

The San Francisco Chronicle on Sept. 13 reported:

The campus letter says the student teaching the course “did not comply with policies and procedures that govern the normal academic review.” A spokesman for Dirks said the student did not show his course proposal to the dean of the College of Letters and Sciences, Carla Hesse, as required.

Almost the same exact explanation was given to InsideHigherEd in its Sept. 14 story:

The university suspended the course because its proposal was never submitted to Dean Carla Hesse of the College of Letters and Sciences, said Dan Mogulof, executive director for communications and public affairs at Berkeley.

Although the dean is not required to approve the course, students must still send her a copy of the proposal. That way, she can review the course and speak to colleagues or the department chair — who is required to sign off on the course — before it is taught.

“When the dean was made aware of the course, she had serious concerns,” Mogulof said. “And she was surprised because she had not previously heard about it.”

But there was a big problem I uncovered. The DeCal website explicitly states that the Dean of Letters & Science does not need to get a copy: “Note that DeCals in the College of Letters & Science no longer need to submit a copy of their proposals to the Dean starting Fall 2014.” (UPDATE: Dean Hesse explained in an email that apparently the head of the Undergraduate Studies made this decision in 2014 without informing the other division heads in Letters & Science or the Dean of Letters & Science.)

When I contacted the Berkeley administration, Dan Mogulof got back to me with a new explanation:

The Executive Dean of Berkeley’s College of Letters and Science was never informed of any change in the review policy for Decal courses, and would not have approved of any change that would withhold information about course proposals from the Dean’s office. In addition, it has also been determined that a department chair with the authority to grant approval for courses in the fall did not review and approve this course. The existing policy of the Academic Senate’s Committee on Courses and Instruction explicitly states that the relevant department chair or the Dean must approve new courses, and that “a copy of the approved proposal form” must also be provided to the Dean. Neither of these steps were completed in this instance.

This is incorrect. What Mogulof calls a “policy” is actually a “Department Chair Checklist for Student-Facilitated 98 and 198 Courses.” It includes three sections: the first two involve verifying the substance of the course, while the “next steps” at the end are bureaucratic procedures. This checklist refers to providing copies of the “approved proposal” to various people, including the dean. This wording would indicate that the faculty, not the dean, make the decision to approve a course, which is how it should be. If the dean doesn’t have the power to approve courses, then she doesn’t have the power to suspend courses, even if she isn’t given a copy because that’s exactly what the DeCal program website says to do.

It’s notable that no Berkeley policy gives Dean Hesse the authority to suspend a course. According to Mogulof, “The course was suspended as per the Dean’s assessment of how best to handle a situation where rules and policies were not adhered to.” This is extremely alarming: the Dean asserts that if “rules and policies” are not followed, the Dean can arbitrarily suspend a class, without a hearing.

After trying to blame the suspension on the student facilitator’s failure to follow proper procedures, it is now clear that the student (and the faculty) followed the written procedures. It would be terrible to ban a class over an innocent bureaucratic error. It is far worse when there was no error at all, and the student and faculty (who are the ones responsible for informing a dean) had no way of knowing that a dean had to be informed when the official university website for the DeCal courses said precisely the contrary.

Now the administration has quickly invented a new explanation to justify why the course must be suspended. According to Mogulof: “there was an acting chair over the summer who did not have the authority to approve courses for the fall.”

Since an acting chair is normally acting as the chair, it would be very strange to say that the acting chair lacks the power of a chair to approve DeCal courses. I asked Mogulof if there is any written policy that says acting chairs cannot approve DeCal courses, and how DeCal courses would get approved in a department if no one has the authority to do it, but he hasn’t responded to those questions yet.

All of these procedural excuses cannot possibly justify suspending the Palestine class. But is there a substantive reason for objecting to the course? No.

The Regents Policy on Course Content denounces “Misuse of the classroom by, for example, allowing it to be used for political indoctrination…” The Regents Policy on Course Content is a terrible policy because a ban on “political indoctrination” is so vague and ill-defined, and can be abused to punish controversial political opinions. But it has no relevance to this controversy because political indoctrination cannot be determined solely by looking at a syllabus.

There appear to have been no complaints about the course by students enrolled in it, and no one in the administration attended the class.

Although a syllabus can reveal some indications of bias, it is almost impossible to conclude that a course is “political indoctrination” without evidence from the way that it is taught. Even a syllabus with one-sided readings can be taught without political indoctrination, if the instructor is open to encouraging dissenting viewpoints.

Nor is the course a violation of the Regents Policy against intolerance “in which dissenting viewpoints are not only tolerated but encouraged.” Actually, this policy is being violated by the Berkeley Administration in its efforts to ban this class.

The policy goes on to declare: “Freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry are paramount in a public research university and form the bedrock on which our mission of discovery is founded. The University will vigorously defend the principles of the First Amendment and academic freedom against any efforts to subvert or abridge them.”

Yet the Berkeley administration is demanding changes to the content of the course already approved by faculty.

Hadweh reported that at a meeting on Sept. 13, Dean Hesse told him three things he needed to do to have her reconsider her decision and approve the course, although approval was not guaranteed even if he did them.

First, she said that he would need to “prove that it’s balanced” because she felt it was “unbalanced.” Second, he reported that she said it was “seeking to politically mobilize students” and that was not allowed. Third, he reported that he would need to justify having the class as Ethnic Studies rather than Near East Studies or Global Studies.

There is no requirement that classes at Berkeley (or anywhere else) are “balanced,” nor should there be such a requirement for such a vague goal. There is no requirement that classes at Berkeley cannot seek to politically mobilize students (although there’s no evidence this class did that). And it is bizarre to challenge the particular department approving the course, especially since that has nothing to do with the course.

According to Berkeley’s website, Hesse’s expertise is “Early Modern Europe; 16th-20th century France; European Intellectual History, 17th-20th century.” Her books are The Other Enlightenment: How French Women Became Modern and Publishing and Cultural Politics in Revolutionary Paris, 1789-1810. She appears to have no scholarly expertise at all about Israel and Palestine. So it is strange that Hesse would evaluate a syllabus and order changes without any input from the faculty involved, after suspending it without any input from the faculty involved.

The InsideHigherEd article reported:

The dean will now work with the Berkeley Academic Senate to review the course and examine whether it meets the university’s academic standards. The review process will also determine whether it complies with Berkeley’s intolerance policy, which was revised in March to condemn anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

But rather than consulting with faculty, Hesse is demanding changes to fit her personal beliefs. Yet none of these changes required reflect anything that would justify suspending the course. If Hesse wanted to encourage him to alter and improve the class, she was free to do that without suspending the class. If Hesse wanted to publicly denounce the class, she was free to do that. Instead, Hesse abused her authority to ban a class without due process and without any sound justification.

Once a course has been approved and is underway, a heavy burden must be on the administration to prove that there is something fundamentally wrong with it, so completely wrong that it must be immediately halted without further review. Berkeley has not met this high standard; in fact, it has not even attempted to try to meet this standard, and does not even allege that this standard has been violated.
It is absolutely shocking that a university would ban a course under political pressure, using the violation of bureaucratic procedures as an excuse for its censorship. It is even more shocking because there was no violation of bureaucratic procedures.

If there was a breakdown in bureaucratic procedures (and there is no evidence of it), then it is the obligation of the university to fix those procedures in the future, not to ban a course and punish a facilitator and his students who reasonably followed every written rule.

This decision sends a clear message to the campus: controversial speech will be punished, especially if it is critical of Israel.

This course suspension is absolutely indefensible, completely unacceptable, and purely motivated by politics and public relations. It is a violation of academic freedom, shared governance, UC-Berkeley’s guidelines, the Regents Policies, and the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

107 thoughts on “Berkeley Bans a Palestine Class

    • Typical US. Whether it is in the media or in education you only permit your people to hear the version of events that suits your political purposes. My sympathies to those trying to break through the indoctrination. Of course the US and Israel were the holdouts supporting South African apartheid the longest too. The US was eventually shamed into supporting the SA boycott. That is why they work so hard to make sure their people never get to hear about the reality of Israel.

  1. Important to know that the academic sponsor of this course was Berkeley Islamist Hatem Bazian who has committed his life to fighting Israel. Bazian was born in Nablus and has made a life out of Islamist politics criticizing the USA and Israel. It is easy to see that this was a political event course to smear Israel and not to further education.

    • Why is that important? Shouldn’t critics of Israel have academic freedom? I think any course about Israel and Palestine is going to have political aspects. How do you know that it can’t be educational if it’s not allowed to be taught?

      • Simply googling Bazian and what he does will show who he is and what he does.
        He is a political operative and an Islamist to boot. People like him are trying to mainstream the colonial settler narrative that lives on the murky fringes of Marxist academia. It is of course important who teaches or who wrote the material, what an absurd thing to say “Why is that important?”. Let us teach Hitter then, if it is not important.
        What we have here is a radical minority who through entryist operations are trying to change what is taught.
        I am all for academic freedom but it needs to be based on fact and not come out of the crotch of a radical movement which then bills it as Academic freedom. Who are you trying to fool ?
        Why not have the KKK or the US Nazi party teach a course at Berkeley. I am sure that we would find no academic freedom.

      • “Simply googling” someone involved in a course is, obviously, totally insufficient to alter, cancel, or even judge the nature of the course. “Just google it” is one of the sillier things I’ve heard, although not quite as silly as “I’m all for academic freedom, but I’m totally okay with cancelling a course based on no knowledge whatsoever of its content or manner of instruction.” Although both approaches seems on par with, or even exceeding, the due diligence performed by the Dean.

      • it would have been a very one sided course anyway. Informing people is okay, but the information has to be balanced and nuanced. In these times of jew hatred (yes they are still at the top of religious hate crime), every biased picturing of them can be downright dangerous; I attended many Palestinian led seminars, courses, and speeches about Palestine, and it struck me that always all the guilt was attributed to the jews; Muslims should give up that unconditional loyalty to the ummah, cause it leads to unhealthy, prejudiced opinions that are not fair. They are the first to shout islamophobia, so they should understand that sometimes limits are necessary

      • Bazan shouldn’t hide behind his students. The undergraduate who was “teaching” this “class” hasn’t earned the same right to academic freedom that a fully vetted tenured professor has. By conflating this fact your headline misrepresents the academic freedom issue and mtherefore doesn’t represent honest journalism.

        • How does my headline misrepresent anything? It says, “Berkeley Bans a Palestine Class,” which is a simple statement of fact, isn’t it? You can disagree on whether they should or shouldn’t, but how can anyone deny that’s a fact?

    • An “Islamist”? Is that something like a “Judaist” or a “Christianist”? Hatem Bazian is a Palestinian who has experienced the Nakba and victimized by settler colonialism of his historic homeland by European Zionists. Cancellation of this course in response to pressure from heavily financed Islamophobic hate groups is the latest evidence of Zionist corruption of our Constitution and our civil liberties.

        • “Squeezing history”? A rather amusing comment from a Zionist, considering how Zionist colonial settlers in Palestine have been squeezing history for 70 years in an effort to excuse more than a
          million Palestinians killed or dispossessed by and for the apartheid terrorist Jewish state. And while zio-supremacists continue to bully and threaten those who would expose Israel’s Machiavellian agenda, innocent Palestinian children are brutalized or murdered every day as part of Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign.

        • A perfect illustration of Zionist hasbara. I didn’t say a million killed. Any more than Abbas said no Jew would be allowed to live in a free Palestine. Or any more than Ahmadinejad said Israel should be wiped off the map. I suppose when the truth is painful to admit, the guilty must resort to lies.

      • But you did write: “70 years in an effort to excuse more than a million Palestinians killed or dispossessed by and for the apartheid terrorist Jewish state”

        I am confused? Was it a figure out speech/expression?

      • Let me get this straight. I can teach a course attacking US Imperialism, the innate racism of American Society. But if I say One Bad Word about Israel I’m toast? Surely this is an article in the Onion, not a serious debate on academia…

        • Palestinian children aren’t indoctrinated to hate Jews. It is in fact Israeli children who are indoctrinated to hate “Arabs” and in particular Palestinians. Palestinian children don’t have to be taught about what Jews are doing in Palestine. They see it with their own eyes. Palestinian children learn from an early age that those who occupy their land, terrorize them and their families, demolish their homes, murder or incarerate their fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, destroy their olive trees, incinerate babes in their cribs & children kidnapped outside mosques just happen to be Jewish. As a child in England during the last World War I blamed “Germans” for dropping bombs on our houses and killing my school friends. Now of course I realize they were just young men defending their country, just as the young men of the RAF were defending mine. Unlike the IDF occupying forces and the illegal Jewish settlers in Palestine whose agenda is much clearer. All of the land of historic Palestine without any Palestine people. And yes, Israel is stealing the land for the exclusive use of Jews. Dare to tell me it’s antisemitic to say that. Thank God for all the non-zionist Jews who share my revulsion for what Israel is doing.

      • The way you’re twisting the truth is troublesome. 1) Palestine used to be called ‘Judea’ in history, which means ‘land of the jews’. There is ample proof (archeological, scriptures) that jews lived in that country from an early area on. How comes there are no archeological finds that indicate the existence of Arabs in those regions? Jews are certainly entitled to live there.
        2) If Palestines had accepted the most promising peace deal (some of them were very generous) and invested in development instead of in warfare and hate mongering, they might have had a thriving state. But they preferred to keep fighting, and harassing and attacking the jews, cause, let’s be fair, in their eyes jews are pigs and apes and they’d rather die than live together with them, let alone live under their rule. You can’t expect the jews to sit on their ass, while their citizens are killed in droves. The aggression usually emanates from the Palestinians, the jews have every right to defend themselves
        3) Palestinian children are certainly provoked to hate jews. This is one of the many video’s on youtube proving that fact, and there are a host of photographs of young children in battle dress and with weaponry (even babies). There are even manuals to teach them where and how to stab. A wise man once said: ‘show me how you treat your children, and I will know the level of your civilization’.
        If you see what is happening in Europe, you just have to tie the knots and you’ll realize that we’re in the same fight as the jews

    • “Bazian was born in Nablus” — outrageous! You mean to tell me Berkeley has someone on its faculty who was born on occupied land? That’s crazy! Who wants Loser Land types on the faculty? Obviously only those born in Winner Territory can teach!

    • Important to know your comment is only your biased opinion, and not based on any provable facts.

      Also important to know Israel has been committing long term genocide of Palestinians, a war crime, and theft of Palestinian land, both of which are documented facts.

      The Palestinian Genocide By Israel

      Parables of Zion: Maps of Israel/Palestine tell the Real Story

      Top Ten Myths about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

    • You say this like it’s bad? Israel and USA deserve criticism for their collusion to displace and oppress Palestinians. Your hasbara is worthless here.

    • So is it OK for an academic sponsor of such a course to be a Berkeley Zionist who has committed his life to fighting Palestine? Wouldn’t his course be seen as a political event course to smear Palestine?

    • The banning of this course is wrong. To equate anti-zionism with antsemitism is very wrong. Jewish groups were involved in defending free speech and the importance of this class. It is clear from this and other incidents at other U.C. campuses that Zionist organizations screaming antisemitism can stifle free speech on the campuses. This was a day of shame for U.C. Berkeley. I hope the students protest vigorously and get this undemocratic decision reversed. The decision is an affront to Palestinian-Americans, Jewish-Americans and the very Constitution itself.

  2. I think Berkeley did wrong in “suspending” the course. But you’re being a bit sophistic about “approved proposal.” That means approved by the department. According to the form it still has to go to the Faculty Senate committee, so the department’s approval doesn’t mean approval tout court.

    • And the Faculty Senate committee did approve it. The point here is that there’s a dispute about whether that dean needs to get a copy of the proposal (and there’s also no timeline required for when the dean must receive the proposal). But there is no policy that says the dean must approve the course, or that the dean can veto the course. If the dean could not ban the class from being offered, why can she suspend the class without a hearing after it has started? This is a faculty matter according to Berkeley’s policies, and the faculty approved it. That’s the worrisome shared governance aspect of this case.

  3. A side point is that pro Israel speakers have for years been disrupted and had events cancelled across the UC system. These cases all involved “direct action” ( street thuggery ) in which student activists form the Hatem Bazian founded Students for Justice in Palestine make listening to talk impossible. It is ironic that the same group now complains when one of their courses is cut.

    • I think you’re being disingenuous here, as Palestinian activism is one of the most frequently condemned and protested events on university campuses. Not disregarding your criticism regarding SFJIP, but expanding upon it. Whatever your critique is about its creation, banning a course under these circumstances is indefensible. Finally, alleging a group makes talking impossible does not justify administrators silencing those who may not even be part of what your accusingly them of. I’m skeptical that what you allege is grounds for scraping a course.

  4. @Dani: “trying to mainstream the colonial settler narrative that lives on the murky fringes of Marxist academia”? Are you kidding me? Nothing needs to be “mainstreamed” more than the freaking colonial settler narrative. Welcome to the real world in which we are attempting to academically engage students in the arena of social justice and not someone or some countries religious affiliation. How dare you speak of Palestinian “street thuggery” while continuing to endorse their oppression in our classrooms. Shame on you.

    • How about a biology course that presents the claims of evolution denialist. I know a college biology teacher who structured his course around those claims. He reasoned that many of his students in a freshman class were familiar with creationists claims and thus put them up front for critical analysis. Not only those students but the majority of the students who had accepted the claims of evolution as facts without any understanding for why those claims were accepted. The course was quite popular with both the students and praised by other faculty members. It successfully brought out one of the main points of critical analysis: Why do we believe in what we believe?

    • But don’t you get denial of evolution courses all the time? Don’t universitites have departments of Theology where people study all kinds of beliefs? And who has a monopoly on the truth anyway? History is not like the sciences. When you are studying what people believe and how it affects their actions you cannot have simpilistic fact/truth requirements.

      • You seem to be arguing that truth is relative so it is okay to have a course which is perceived as indoctrination in falsehoods by some. I don’t think that is acceptable. One possible outcome would be comparable classes teaching that BDS is anti-Semitism and anti-Semitism is thriving on American campuses. I doubt if a class like that would be approved and would expect screams if it was. I can’t picture a class like that taking place without it including opportunities for people like Hatem Bazian and his supporters to make their case.

        • I guess the big question there is who gets to decide. If some people perceive a course to be indoctrination in falsehoods, they have a position, another opinion. What are the criteria that would be used to determine what is truth? A part of the work of universities is to discuss openly and fearlessly those difficult questions, even when our beliefs are strongly grounded in a sense that our opponents are wrong. I’m not sure I would say that truth is relative, but I would say that perceptions of truth vary from person to person and I am not happy with university administrations closing down discussion as though they had privileged access to the truth. That seems to me to be the road to a dangerous authoritarianism. Freedom of speech is priceless in universities.

      • the difference between indoctrinating falsehood and hate speech is sometimes very small. I am not American, nor a jew, but from what i learned from the news, jews have every reason to be careful. It looks to me as if they are pushed in a corner more and more, though most of their claims have some legitimation too. I really pity them

      • @David Marshak: That’s not comparable, because it’s a fact that Zionist settlers colonized Israel, and it’s also a fact that there’s nothing inherently anti-Semitic about BDS. Now, a course examining the links between BDS proponents and anti-semites might be comparable… except that is a very limited and theoretically uninteresting topic, suitable for a journalistic investigation but not really for an academic course.

  5. To John,

    This is an excellent post and I share your sentiments. However, I would say that Hesse’s scholarship in European Intellectual History may very well lend itself to some level of expertise in Zionism. I think to study this intellectual trend of Zionism would force oneself to look beyond Europe, and see how it evolved within Israel proper and how it developed in response to conflicts with Palestians and other Arab communities. While you very well may be correct, I think one deserves the benefit of the doubt on these matters

    • That’s an interesting perspective I hadn’t thought about it. But even if Hesse is an expert on Zionism and anti-Zionism (I don’t know), that’s not what this course was all about. The only thing more dangerous than a dean who knows nothing about a topic is a dean who thinks she knows something, and is prepared to impose that on a campus.

      • Dean Hesse, who is a very talented historian, is “pro” Zionist as she’s openly attested to in the History 5’s (European History) she’s taught at Berkeley. Perhaps that bias played a role here, but perhaps not…

    • David, I read the article you posted and couldn’t find any references to falsehoods in the class, aside from vague “it will be propaganda, therefore false” statements. Could you specify what the class was teaching (or would have been teaching) that is false?

    • No it’s not. That article talks about “falsehoods” (which in this case turn out to be statements that it disagrees with or doesn’t find sufficient support for) in talks given by it’s faculty sponsor. It doesn’t discuss or have any idea about the content of the class.

      • My contention is that the perception that the class was indoctrination in obviously false teachings drove criticism of the class and that is not mentioned in the article by John. I don’t have access to details about the class. I am not a big fan of the article I cited. It would be better if the author did not focus on how awful Hatem is and instead gave details about what is wrong with the class.

  6. As a student organizer of the systemwide anti-apartheid movement that swept UC campuses in 1977, I’m glad the Regents didn’t have an (alleged) “intolerance policy.” Given the strong historical, political and ideological links between Zionism and apartheid it’s easy to imagine the Regents declaring opposition to apartheid was evidence of bias against whites and attempt to ban us.

    It’s significant that the BDS campaign explicitly modeled its tactics and strategy on the international anti-apartheid movement. Its also significant that the anti-apartheid movement as a whole quite openly called for the destruction of the apartheid state and its replacement with a representative and non-racial government in its place. And most of us equally supported and defended the legitimacy of armed struggle against the whte supremacist system.

    As a group the Regents of that day were determinedly ignorant of the injustices they were helping underwrite, disinterested in the suffering of its victims and certainly had no interest in disinvesting the university’s enormous investments in south Africa-linked companies, which was our key local demand.

    But they never attempted to shut the movement down or censor discussion and debate about apartheid on campus. They wouldn’t have dared. Its a sad commentary on just how far the University of California has devolved away from its core values that they are trying it now with Palestine.

    • It is my understanding the course was indoctrination not debate. The link to what it covered no longer works so I can’t give citations to it. Israel is not South Africa. Jews are not protestants. When I was young, we were viewed as an inferior race and treated accordingly in some public accommodations and neighborhoods. Arabs are not blacks and their position and history is very different from that of black people. Those things may not matter to some people who see themselves as heroes and the rest of us as less worthy human beings.

      • The root of the problem here is that Israel generally only has ‘narrative’ while Palestine usually has the actual historical record. For example, The invented Israeli ‘narrative’ of native Christians and Muslims fleeing on orders from Arab governments in 1948, conclusively proven to be utterly baseless by Erskine Childers in 1961, still has wide credence. Why? Because this simple fact contradicts the ‘narrative’, and since contradicting the invented ‘narrative’ threatens the perception of Israel, the fact itself must not be taught, attempts at teaching it labeled antisemitic. Facts themselves become antisemitic. Ideology trumps intellectual rigor. None of this has a place in academia.

        The ban, the protests against the course…are all simply examples of Israel’s growing panic at actual, documentary history getting out there contradicting what can only be described as a rather Goebbelsesque Israeli approach to historiography.

  7. “There appear to have been no complaints about the course by students enrolled in it[.]” Not sure how this is a salient point. I’m sure the class was self-selecting, i.e., students who wanted to learn how to destroy Israel.

    • It’s an important point because one of the few legitimate reasons why an administration can step in is if the fundamental rights of a student in the class are being violated. If there’s no allegation of that happening, then the excuse for suspending a class is much, much weaker.

    • The “self-selection” claim is an interesting twist. Absence of evidence of violation of student rights becomes evidence that a course should not be offered. The unstated assumption is that all students should not only be able to take any course (something that was fulfilled here, as there is no evidence anyone was turned away from the course), but that if there is a course that someone somewhere might not want to take, then that course is illegitimate.

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  10. One of things that is so disheartening here is the degree of ad hominem comments in place of substantive criticism. That, from my own perspective, tends to make me wonder whether such criticism is based on fear of substantive questions about Israel and Palestine.

    But one of the points that seems to be lost here is the question of process. I am not here to either defend or condemn the course or its intended purposes; that is something that I don’t think anyone here can do unless they were enrolled in the class. The question is whether the student-facilitator in question went through the correct process of submission and approval. He clearly did; if there was any malfeasance here, it was the administration’s decision to approve and then subsequently cancel the course in question.

    Instead of attacking the course, the facilitator or its guest speakers for being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic (the two are not synonymous), maybe those offended should consider placing blame where the blame lies. Unless, of course, they feel that there isn’t really any blame to begin with,

  11. Pingback: Berkeley suspends Palestine class midway through semester | NewZSentinel

    • If the Zionist lobby had its way in the US (which it eventually will unless there are enough real defenders of academic freedom and free speech the First Amendment will be eviscerated and professors, journalists and bloggers alike will be fired, perhaps even imprisoned, for discussing Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians and Muslim world more broadly. Of course, this is well underway elsewhere. Regrettably the US academy is effectively ruled by fear and it’s all too easy for such powerful interests to intimidate the tenured and non-tenured alike.

  12. Simply put Arabs are the colonizers in Palestine–which is a land designated by occupying powers and has never been a sovereign nation. Arabs advocate removal of Jews from Palestine and create academic sounding arguments while Israel treats wounded Arabs from Syria and Arab states deny Arab refugees. Bazian cries about Islamophobia while denying rights like freedom of speech to Jews.

    • Simply put it is “squeezing history” – – to use a term posted above by your fellow zio-supremacist friend Dani.
      The land is Palestine. Certainly there were always some Jews living in historic Palestine, along with Muslims and Christians. These Arab Jews belong to the land just as much as do all other Palestinian Arabs. Zionist Jews do not, and for the most part any supposed connection to the land of Palestine is invented. And you are repeating another oft-told lie: That Arabs advocate removal of Jews from Palestine. Palestinians have no issue with Jews except for those with weapons who attack them and their children, steal their land and natural resources and demolish their homes. This includes illegal settlers and IDF occupiers. I have travelled extensively in Palestine, including Gaza, with Jewish friends who are welcomed by the Palestinian people as are all visitors who go in friendship.

      • The term “zio-supremacist” is anti semitic and obfuscates the fact that bar one all other countries in the Middle East are Arab and Muslim, and I doubt they’d have it any other way. Reading Hamas’s charter you get a sense what supremacy really means. Cleaning Israel of all non Muslim’s.

    • Palestinians (not Arabs, which could mean Israeli Arab Jews) advocate for the removal of illegal Jewish settlers from Palestine, and they definitely would like to see the brutal occupying forces removed from their land. The fact the members of those groups are Jewish is irrelevant to the Palestinians, who welcome Jewish visitors as they welcome all visitors, so long as the visitors aren’t toting assault weapons or riding in tanks.

    • and then they don’t even mention the many times that seminars, or lectures about islam had to be cancelled or were boycotted because the speakers were critical – not even too critical – but critical. Eg, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Maryam Namazie, Katie Hopkins. But suddenly they are the champions of freedom of speech? Strange

  13. Actually, yes, we should study Hitler and the KKK, just as we should study Apartheid, censorship, and the role of money in how higher ed. is administered in America. The issue of Israel and Palestine is 2nd to our Bill of Rights and the 1st Amendment.

  14. Pingback: Media Coverage 9/16/16 – Our University Project

  15. Pingback: Three weeks into the semester, Berkeley shuts down course on Palestine (2) :: News From Underground

  16. As I expected, this conversation has been hijacked, mostly by people brainwashed with pro-Israel propaganda. Loaded word choices, goalpost-moving, and subject-changing straight out of Pravda, the People’s Daily, and undergraduate seminars.

  17. In a wonderful and extremely well researched booklet (Sobell, D. (1999), Galileo’s daughter, London, Penguin Books) Dana Sobell gives a detailed insight into the politics of suppression of unwanted and even unholy knowledge. In the most advanced Academe of its time the Catholic Church reasoned overwhelmingly that the ideas of Galilei were so unscientific that he was spared his life in return for a life time ban on his speaking to students.In our Western world anti zionism has some of the same characteristics of cosmological heresy in the time of Galilei(mid 17th century) and this situation is quite interesting in itself.

  18. There is a difference between a class taught by a tenured faculty member and one taught by an undergraduate student when it comes to issues of academic freedom, a distinction not made in this article and that is unfortunate. The headline itself is a particularly egregious failure of basic journalism because it misrepresents the issue by conflating tenured faculty with undergraduate students.

    While there may be “a global onslaught of organizations attacking this course” there is also an equally powerful global onslaught of organizations attacking Israel, Jewish students on college campuses as well as Jewish organizations, intellectuals and performers, of which this “course” was perhaps a part. This context goes unmentioned by the author.

    Wilson also defends the syllabus while admitting it is biased and justifying the right of the student/teacher to be biased. If the course is pure propaganda then should it be permitted to under the guise of education? He does this without publishing either the syllabus, course content, reading list or background of the student/teacher. Anything that a fair minded person could use to critically evaluate the academic merits of this “course”. But he does include many emails that have little to do with the content of the course that would have been taught and sanctioned by the UoC Berkeley.

    Tenured faculty are thoroughly vetted by their peers for years and they have earned the right to the academic freedom to teach what they want how they want to with whatever bias the see fit. Can the same be said for undergraduate students with an ax to grind? No one is saying that this student doesn’t have the right to promulgate his views on campus, only that the context of a for-credit class sanctioned by the university is not a legitimate forum.

    • Technically, the professor is the instructor of record for this class and the student is the facilitator. So it violates the academic freedom of both. And yes, students have academic freedom. Otherwise, graduate students could be censored and punished for their academic views, which I think (and the AAUP agrees) is wholly unacceptable. Academic freedom is about academic work, not what degrees you hold or job titles. Second, you are correct that there are cases where the rights of pro-Israel people are violated. This is obviously not one of them, which is why I didn’t discuss the topic. Third, I do defend this on due process grounds alone. And the syllabus was not available at the time (it now is). I don’t see anything in the syllabus that should be banned. Academic freedom is not limited to tenured faculty; it should be a fundamental principle of a university, and banning a class due to political disagreement is a clear violation of that principle.

  19. @noevalleyjim Apologies for mistakenly thinking your comment was directed at me. It was of course directed to Jason who wrote “But you did write: ’70 years in an effort to excuse more than a million Palestinians killed or dispossessed by and for the apartheid terrorist Jewish state. I am confused? Was it a figure out speech/expression?””

    No response from Jason, who admitted he is confused. Or from Dani who misquoted me in her response to my earlier comment.

    I maintain the actual number of Palestinians dispossessed by Israel’s ongoing colonization and ethnic cleansing of Palestine is far greater than a million, since it should be amended to include the children and grandchildren of those driven from their homes and land in Palestine in 1947-48 and since.

  20. Banning “political indoctrination” is certainly not a bad idea. Yes, it requires those who approve the courses to exercise good judgment and not misapply the policy to disallow courses like this one on the basis of controversial political content. But without good judgment, any policy is doomed anyway.

  21. People who agree with the course feel the truth has been suppressed. Those who think the positions taken are reasonable will be upset also. Those who view the course as indoctrination in lies think the truth has triumphed. I would guess the Dean is upset that the procedures deemed to be in place allow faculty to poke a part of the community in the eye without her even getting a heads up about that. And it seems some here take at best a dim view of many members of one of the communities affected by this. And that does not seem fair to those looked down on. That is life.

  22. Fiat Lux! Have all of you forgotten Berkeley’s motto? I expect more out of all concerned. Islamist or Zionist — let both speak….let the battles begin. I think UC students are bright enough to make up their own minds! No one needs to hold there hand and “protect” them! Fiat Lux!

  23. Bottom line . The decision to suspend the course is a correct one . Take your prejudice , hate, and anti semitism back to social media trolling . The end .

  24. Pingback: Berkeley Bans a Palestine Class | The New Nationalist

  25. Pingback: Israel linked to suspension of Palestine course at UC Berkeley | SRI LANKA

  26. Pingback: Dean Hesse Rescinds Suspension of Palestine Class | ACADEME BLOG

  27. Pingback: Allowed Again, But Question Remain about Suspension of Berkeley Class | ACADEME BLOG

  28. Pingback: Jewish censorship of historical truth has been going on for centuries. Israel Linked To Suspension Of Palestine Course At UC Berkeley – aladdinsmiraclelamp

  29. Pingback: UC Berkeley | BDS | Academic Freedom | antisemitism |

  30. Pingback: Every Flag but One - Das Tor

  31. Pingback: UC Berkeley Suspends and Reinstates Course on Palestine – SJP WEST

  32. Pingback: Speaking of Palestine and academic freedom

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