Tuesday, May 19, 2015

An Open Letter to Professor Judith Butler (UC Berkeley)

On March 2, Professor Judith Butler of UC Berkeley spoke at UC Irvine on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Butler is a critic of Israel. During the q and a, I asked Butler a question about incidents of anti-Semitic expressions on the part of the pro-Palestinian forces. (Butler herself comes from a Jewish family.)

Below is the content of an e-mail that I have sent to Professor Butler as a follow up to my question.

Dear Professor Butler,

My name is Gary Fouse, and I am a part-time teacher at the UC Irvine Extension. When you spoke at UCI on March 2, I was the one who asked you a question regarding anti-Semitic expressions by pro-Palestinian supporters on UC campuses. I also quoted a comment made by Mohammed al Asi, a Washington DC-based imam who said at UCI in 2001:

"You can take the Jew out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto) out of the Jew". 

In response, you told me that your mother had told you the same thing. I would like to provide you with the full statement for proper context:

"We have a psychosis in the Jewish community that is unable to co-exist equally and brotherly with other human beings." 

The video clip is below.

In addition, I would like to bring your attention to a letter that I drafted in collaboration with UCSC Professor Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, also of the AMCHA Initiative. It is a letter signed by concerned UC faculty asking UC President Janet Napolitano to take action to confront the rising anti-Semitism on UC campuses. I would like you to read it and hopefully add your name to it. You should also know that we have asked the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) to help in disseminating it.

You may be asking why I wrote this letter. I am not Jewish, but I did grow up among Jews in West Los Angeles. Later, I had the occasion to spend my US Army service just outside of Nuremberg, Germany. I not only became aware of that city's history during the 20th century, but I went on to become something of an amateur scholar on the history of the Third Reich. In addition, I have visited Auschwitz as well as other places like Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Dachau. It has all impacted me greatly.

Today, I see a resurgence in anti-Jew hatred worldwide. The events in Europe are reminiscent of the 1930s. More specifically, I see the focal point of anti-Semitism in the US as being right here in our universities.

That is why I wrote the letter.

Regardless of where one stands on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it is no excuse for anti-Semitism directed against Jews as a people. It is undeniable that some speakers who have been brought to our campuses by the Muslim Student Association or Students for Justice in Palestine have crossed the line into anti-Semitic speech. All of this has created a hostile atmosphere for Jewish students who wish to assert their Jewish identity and/or support Israel. Of course, I do not pretend to speak for anyone in the Jewish community, students or otherwise. It is too fragmented a community for me to do that.

At any rate, I hope you will sign our letter.


Gary Fouse

PS: Please note that I am a blogger, and this is in the form of an open letter which I will post on my blog (Fousesquawk/

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