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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Is UC Berkeley Putting its Imprimatur on an Anti-Israel Event?


Hat tip to OC Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism and Tammi Benjamin

Yesterday, another one of those anti-Israel bashes went on at UC Beserkley. One of the sponsors was Students for Justice in Palestine. Most troublesome, however, is the participation of a university department, the Muslim Identities and Cultures Working Group, under Prof. Anthony Cascardi, director of the Townsend Center for Humanities.  The title of the event was, "What can American academia do to realize justice for Palestinians? Gee, I wonder whose side they favor. I imagine Prof. Anthony Gutiererz was probably there unless he was busy heckling Jewish students who protest against swastikas on UCB bathroom walls.

http://octaskforce.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/berkeley-chancellor-refuses-to-sever-ucbs-official-connection-with-anti-israel-event/

So let me get this straight; If a university department puts on a forum, seminar or whatever you want to call it, and everything and everyone involved takes only one position, is that stating that UC Berserkley's official position is against Israel in this conflict? That's the way I look at it. I thought a university was supposed to excpose students to all points of view. Well, apparently not if you have a pro-Israel point of view.

This reminds me of that Whtiher the Levant farce that was put on at UC-Irvine back in January of 2009. Every speaker, every professor involved was against Israel. When I spoke up in Israel's defense, I was jeered by the audience. That seminar had partial sponsorship of the UCI Middle East Studies Initiative.

And what a lame response from the university to the protest letter. This is not education; it is indoctrination.

* I am working on getting Prof. Cascardi's letter posted here.

8 comments:

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I'd say that's a close call, Gary. When I was a child, some branch of student government at the private liberal arts college where my father taught decided to invite George Lincoln Rockwell to speak. They didn't intend to endorse him, just thought he was an interesting and controversial speaker.

Personally, I would have said he is a raving loony, not worth spending our money on, and if it had been five years later, the student government would have been full of people who would spit on him if he showed his face. But, at the time, they thought he would be an interesting speaker.

The faculty published a formal letter saying they thought it a poor choice, but the student government should be allowed to proceed; they also picketed the event, one of the few times I've seen my father in a news photo.

The situation you described is of course different. The university is a publicly funded one, which on the one hand imposes more duty to be open to all viewpoints, on the other hand, means there are limits to what public financing should support. Further, this is a university department getting directly involved.

I, personally, believe there is plenty that can be said about Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians in territory under Israeli military jurisdiction. I won't use the term occupation, although it is arguably valid.

I also believe Israel has a fundamental right to defend itself against organized military outfits that damn well are trying to destroy it, and/or destroy as many civilians as they can. I'm not willing to say that either observation, by itself, is sufficient. I'm not willing to deny the right of people emphasizing either side of that equation to speak up.

Where does a university department fit in? If I got to design the rules for a university from the ground up, I would say, any field where there is a substantial consensus as to material fact, such as chemistry, is appropriate to teach - never neglecting to point out that science can't prove truth, only disprove a hypothesis while building up strong evidence that another hypothesis is very likely.

Any subject where reasonable people may differ, ad infinitum, must teach the range of perspectives available, e.g., history. (Creation science and Unintelligible Design don't get in under this label -- they are religion, not science).

Any department of Middle Eastern Studies, etc., must teach both what the Israeli perspective, the various Palestinian perspectives, and the non-Palestinian Arab perspectives, or it gets reorganized or dissolved.

IF that is established, a professor who specializes in Palestinian perspectives might, individually, participate in such a forum, with all his credentials, but not the DEPARTMENT as an entity.

I don't have a sense that that is what is going on here, so your concern is legitimate. You and I probably differ as to exactly what should be done about it.

Gary Fouse said...

Siarlys,

You should check into these Middle Eastern studies departments and see how balanced they are. (I'll give you a clue-they are not.)

Jane said...

Hi,

I am looking to communicate with conservativefaculty, staff and students at UC Irvine and ask some questions about the school for a profile I am writing. Anonymity of all sources is fully protected. Would you be willing to answer some questions and/or refer me to some people who would? Thank you.
Jane Wigutow jswigutow@gmail.com

Gary Fouse said...

Jane,

Tell you what. You can submit your questions right here on this thread, and I will answer them un-anonymously. If you prefer to do it by email, let me know and I'll email you.

To tell the truth, we don't have too many others like me at UCI, and if so, they have remained quiet. For conservative students, I would suggest you contact the College Republicans at their web site.

Jane Wigutow said...

Thank you, Gary. It's a long list! If you prefer to do this by email, that's fine. And if you don't have time to address it all, I will still welcome any input you can give me. Do you want me to say what publication I am working for?
Here are the questions. You can see that numbers 4 and 7 are the one I particularly have in mind for you. If anyone else reading this blog is a UCI student, professor, or alumnus, I would welcome their input also. Thanks again!

1) What are the strongest departments or programs? In each case, could you explain a little bit about why? Which of your colleagues would you like especially to commend to the attention of prospective students?

2) Which departments or programs are weakest, and why?

3) What would you say are the strongest and weakest points of your own department?

4) How would you characterize, based on what you’ve seen or heard, the introductory classes in Western humanities/civilization/history? Are they critically respectful of the Western heritage and American institutions? Uncritically respectful? Not respectful or serious enough? Again, please explain a little.

5) How central is teaching as opposed to research at your school? How large a role does a professor’s commitment to teaching and students play in tenure decisions? Do you think professors at your school teach too little, or too much?

What is the ratio of teaching excellence to research productivity in a typical tenure decision, to your knowledge? 50/50? 30/70?

6) Are there any special programs—Great Books, Honors, study abroad—which you’ve seen at the school that you would highly recommend?

7) Do you find that campus politics intrude into the classroom? Are there certain departments where conservative or religious students would feel unwelcome? Would you characterize the atmosphere on campus as one of free and vigorous debate, or is it at all stultified by political correctness or an unwarranted “orthodoxy”? Please mention any incidents which bear this out. How free do students feel to express views that differ from their teachers or peers?

8) How strong a grounding in the basics of a traditional liberal education would you say every students gets (by virtue of the Core or distributional requirements) at the school?

9) How would you characterize the intellectual curiosity of students? Is it encouraged and fed by particular aspects of the school’s curriculum or practices?

10) How demanding are the science requirements for every graduate?

11) How demanding are the mathematics requirements for every graduate?


12) What are some distinctive traditions or practices at the school which you’d like to share?


If there’s anything else you’d like to say about your school which doesn’t fall within these questions, please add it.

Jane Wigutow said...

HI Gary,

I tried posting my list of questions and it exceeded the word count! Am going to paste here the ones pertinent to this blog. There are other questions that I would welcome your input on as well. Perhaps you would email me and I could send you those. They are basically unrelated to politics.

-How would you characterize, based on what you’ve seen or heard, the introductory classes in Western humanities/civilization/history? Are they critically respectful of the Western heritage and American institutions? Uncritically respectful? Not respectful or serious enough? Again, please explain a little.
-Do you find that campus politics intrude into the classroom? Are there certain departments where conservative or religious students would feel unwelcome? Would you characterize the atmosphere on campus as one of free and vigorous debate, or is it at all stultified by political correctness or an unwarranted “orthodoxy”? Please mention any incidents which bear this out. How free do students feel to express views that differ from their teachers or peers?

Gary Fouse said...

Jane,

Beginning in 7th grade, approved texts are pushing a sanitized version of Islam and an abbreviated version of Western Civilization/Christianity and Judaism. I have written about this in previous blogs about school texts.

University humanities depts. are solidly in the hands of the left. Some will allow students to disagree without lowering their grades. Others will penalize their students and deride them in class. My class is free of politics. I teach my students to speak English and they have no idea what I think about anything. Political correctness rules the day on most campuses. Middle Eastern issues are dominated by the pro-Palestinian-anti-Israel crowd. It is the most volatile issue on today's university campus and has progressed to the point when some Jewish students are hesitant to assert their Jewish identity openly. If you need more anecdotal examples, this blog is full of them.

For the rest, I will send you my email

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Gary:

I have no doubt about the bias of these departments. In my youth, I used to debate would be neocommunists, with whom I shared a penchant for Marxist writings, but with whom I differed on a few details, such as Israel. Many of these same people, or their political cohorts, are now running such departments. I can imagine what they are teaching. As I have noted before, I could cheerfully taunt them with the fact that Lenin endorsed the Balfour Declaration.

Your answers to the journalist, however, are so choked with innuendos and vague ideological characterization as to appear to me to be rather uninformative. Unfortunately, I am in no position to provide any first-hand answers to her questions, since I have not set foot in Orange County for at least eleven years.