Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Other People's Mail

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Other People's Mail

Article excerpt

Attack on Professor Robinson

Dear Professor Michaelsen and Chancellor Yang, University California Santa Barbara

We, the California Scholars for Academic Freedom, are all deeply disturbed to hear about the charges brought against Prof. William Robinson. The charges of anti-Semitism and of violation of the Faculty Code of Conduct, based on an e-mail he sent to his class condemning the Israeli assault in Gaza, are clearly without merit.

First, criticism of the state of Israel and of Israeli leaders and government policy obviously does not constitute anti-Semitism, which is defined as "hatred toward Jews-individually or as a group-that can be attributed to the Jewish religion or ethnicity." Second, the information that Professor Robinson sent was certainly relevant for a course on global issues and in no way involved harassment of students nor "a misuse of University resources...on a significant scale."

It appears in fact that University officials have violated University procedures in bringing these charges. The right to present controversial material in the context of a course-including opinions that may be deeply disturbing to some students-is an essential element of academic freedom. This includes the right to criticize government actions, whether they be American, Israeli, or those of any other government.

We request that the Academic Senate dismiss these charges, apologize to Professor Robinson, and publicly uphold the right of Professor Robinson and other members of the University community to discuss controversial issues in a free and open environment.

California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Holocaust Comparison

To the Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2009

Because I am a Jew and the granddaughter of a survivor of Bergen-Belsen, I too sent out graphic images of Jews in the Holocaust and pictures of Palestinians caught up in Israel's recent Gaza offensive to friends, family and colleagues. I sent them because I was so disturbed by and ashamed of the Israeli assault on Gaza in the name of the Jewish people.

I learned about the plight of the displaced Palestinian people from my survivor grandfather, Henri van Leeuwen, a deeply religious Orthodox Jew who was firmly committed in words and deeds to maintaining a distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

If he were alive today, he would be horrified by UCSB's actions against Prof. William I. Robinson, and even more horrified by Israel's re-enactment of the Warsaw Ghetto on the people of Gaza.

Karen Pomer, Los Angeles, CA

Leave West Bank Settlements

To The Washington Post, April 11, 2009

Last month, we traveled to the West Bank to see in person what was happening in this disputed land. Because seeing the Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank transformed our thinking on the Israeli-Palestinian question, we read with interest Elliott Abrams' remarks regarding settlements.

Previously, we had thought it was Palestinian intransigence that prevented a two-state solution. A look at the settlements demolishes this explanation. The settlements and the maze of Israelis-only roads and military checkpoints to sustain them makes clear that successive Israeli governments-Labor and Likud alike, as Mr. Abrams noted-have actively pursued policies aimed at colonizing the West Bank.

That prevents the establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state, and we are saddened that the conversation has degraded to the point that we now discuss whether illegal land grabs ought to be frozen rather than uprooted.

Unlike the previous administration, of which Mr. Abrams was a part, the Obama administration indicates that it values the international standing of the United States. We hope that President Obama will encourage the Israeli government to relinquish all of its settlements or forgo the considerable aid that implicates the United States in that government's activities in the eyes of much of the world. …

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