Middle East studies in the News
ADL Slams Reinstated Anti-Israel UC Berkeley Class [incl. Hatem Bazian]
The Anti-Defamation League expressed its "deep concern" on Tuesday that a new course at the University of California, Berkeley would present students "with blatantly biased views towards Zionism and Israel as fact."
The student-led, one-credit course, called "Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis,"characterizes Zionism—the movement for Jewish national self-determination—as "settler colonialism" and claims that all of modern-day Israel was once "Palestinian land."
The class was suspended last week following an outcry by pro-Israel groups, after which the university administration claimed that the course was not properly vetted, before reinstating it less than a week later. Paul Hadweh, the course's student facilitator and an active member of the anti-Israel campus group Students for Justice in Palestine, told the blog Electronic Intifada that he only made "cosmetic changes" to the syllabus.
"As the title implies, the class thesis and much of its syllabus is built on the foundation of the denial of the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel and the attempt to negate the right of Jews, like any other people, to assert their self-determination," the ADL said in a statement.
ADL Central Pacific regional director Seth Brysk conveyed his hope that the university community would reject the erasure of Jewish indigeneity and national rights embedded in the course, which he called "biased, ahistorical, and illogical."
"We hope that University of California students, as engaged members of the intellectual community, will exercise critical thinking to understand and reject the extreme, anti-Israel bias the course content reflects," Brysk said. "Attempts to deny the Jewish people's connection to Israel and the right to self-determination are modern expressions of anti-Semitism."
ADL national commissioner Adam Cole noted in a letter to UC Berkeley's president and chancellor a day before the course was suspended that the course readings are heavily slanted against Israel. One reading refers to Zionism as "settler colonialism" and claims that the country works "with a view to eliminating Indigenous societies." Another selection, which was published two years before Israel began occupying the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights in 1967, claims that the "Zionist settler-state" is "racist" and "cannot fail to be recognized as a menace by all civilized men."
Cole warned that the course material may put it in violation of the UC system's "Principles Against Intolerance," which reject "anti-semitic forms of anti-Zionism."
In order to determine whether the anti-Zionism expressed by the course was rooted in anti-Semitism, Cole turned to the U.S. State Department's "3D Test of Anti-Semitism," which posits that delegitimization, demonization, and the use of double standards against Israel amount to anti-Semitism. He wrote:
Calling the course "an affront" to Berkeley and its "Principles Against Intolerance," Cole urged the university's administrators to cancel it accordingly.
As previously reported in The Tower, Hadweh, the course's student facilitator, and Hatem Bazian, the faculty advisor, both have histories of anti-Zionist campaigning.
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