Middle East studies in the News
U of Texas Exonerates Prof Who Prevented 'Palestine Solidarity Committee' Students From Disrupting Israeli Guest Lecturer [on Ami Pedazhur]
by Andrew Pessin
Four months after a student group disrupted a lecture by a professor with an Israeli background, the University of Texas at Austin (UT) has completed its investigation of the incident, The Algemeiner has learned.
According to a summary released by the university, the investigation has exonerated Ami Pedazhur, founding director of UT's Institute for Israel Studies, who confronted the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) students and was accused by them of having behaved violently and inappropriately.
The investigation concluded that Pedazhur had not violated any university rules or policies. The UT President also issued a statement of strong support for him.
According to the summary, the university
Allegations that Pedhazur had done these things arose after the original Nov. 13 incident, reported at the time by The Algemeiner. The Israel Studies program was hosting a lecture by Stanford Prof. Gil-Li Vardi, an Israeli, when students from UT-Austin's PSC stood up, began shouting for the destruction of Israel and waving Palestinian flags, and repeatedly chanted "Long Live the Intifada!" Pedazhur attempted to calm the disruption, urging the students to either "sit down and learn something" or leave. Afterwards the students claimed that Pedazhur had exercised physical force and intimidation against them, and released edited video footage suggesting that Pedazhur had initiated a physical confrontation.
Later, the blog Legal Insurrection obtained unedited video showing that Pedazhur had not initiated any such confrontation, but instead repeatedly urged the students to stay and listen.
The PSC students, led by law student Mohammed Nabulsi and former graduate student Patrick Higgins among others, subsequently hired legal counsel to file a discrimination complaint against Pedazhur with the university. Although the details were not made public, the basis for the complaint, according to public comments by the students, were allegations that Pedazhur had referred to them as "terrorists."
Nabulsi, for example, posted this on Facebook after yesterday's announcement:
As Pedazhur told The Algemeiner in an exclusive interview last November, Nabulsi has openly called on people to rally behind Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups against the Palestinian Authority, which he views as "collaborators" with Israel. According to Legal Insurrection, further, Pedazhur also discovered that both Nabulsi and Higgins use online pseudonyms of known terrorists. Moreover, Legal Insurrection noted, PSC's chants in support of intifada, directed at Israelis at a time when Palestinian knife attacks against Jewish Israelis are occurring daily, "reasonably could have been viewed as an attempt to intimidate, at best, or a threat, at worst."
UT President Gregory Fenves released this statement yesterday:
The Algemeiner reached out to Prof. Pedazhur, whose attorney, Carly Gammill of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), provided the following statement:
As for the student disrupters, The Algemeiner was informed by UT that federal law prohibits the university from discussing disciplinary proceedings with respect to students.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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