Rabbi Michael Lerner writes in his newsletter that quite recently…
A group of right-wing Zionists appealed to the president of San Jose State University (SJSU) to interfere with a seminar on how to teach about Israel/Palestine convened by an Iranian professor named Persis Karim.
Prof. Karim’s intention was to help people see both sides, and she invited me as part of the discussion because my recent book Embracing Israel/Palestine argues that both sides have co-created the situation in the Middle East and both sides need to overcome the tendency to demonize the other. But from the standpoint of the right-wing Zionist group Amcha, this even-handedness is tantamount to hatred of the Jewish people which must always be portrayed as the righteous victim being oppressed by some evil Other.
What ensued were attempts by some on the faculty to demand changes in the program so that their right-wing perspective could be presented (to the twelve educators signed up for the seminar) and by Amcha in a letter to the President of the University that he should know that the seminar may be in violation of Federal regulations and he should not allow similar events to happen in the future that did not represent all perspectives.
Prof. Karim was in tears when she told me how brutal and irrational the attacks on her have become. Luckily, and unlike many of her colleagues both at San Jose State and around the US who watch these incidents and learn to avoid anything that might offend these right-wingers, Prof, Karim has tenure. But that has not stopped other efforts elsewhere to remove even tenured faculty who are suspected of having critical views of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians.
Prof. Karim has not backed down, and the president of San Jose State has not canceled the seminar. But until this kind of harassment stops, there is little chance that this kind of policy of intellectual fascism will cease, that faculty without tenure will feel secure, or that the media will even report about it.
Just so you know- the hatred of Palestinians is an epidemic spreading across academia. It bears repudiation and scholars owe it to society to call a spade a spade and denounce the silencing of Palestinian voices.