Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Question of Professors Bringing Their Beliefs Into Classrooms (Steven Salaita)

Hat tip American Thinker

This post originally appeared in Eagle Rising.

My friends and colleagues Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and Leila Beckwith of the AMCHA Initiative have an article in American Thinker about how the anti-Israel campaign has infected academia and even the classroom. This has been mostly brought to the fore by the controversy over the rescinded hire of Professor Steven Salaita by the University of Illinois.

I have said many times on this site that I do not bring my personal beliefs into the classroom. (I teach English as a Second Language part-time at the University of California at Irvine.) That includes my personal support of Israel. However, I do make my views known at other venues on campus, specifically speaking events where I attend and often participate in q and a, usually in opposition to the speaker. I think that is fair game. While I don't organize out-of-class events myself, I would not preclude myself from doing so.  I think two things are important here: First, I don't subject my own students to my beliefs either in class or on a university server (campus e-mails etc).

Salaita lost his UI job offer principally over intemperate tweets suggesting approval for the kidnapping of Israelis living in the disputed settlements. I don't tweet myself, but I do send out personal emails and I blog. I am sure many who read my comments about Islamic extremism have concluded that I am Islamophobic or that I hate Muslims. As to the latter, I plead innocent. As to the former it depends how you define that tricky term, which I shouldn't even give lip service to since it was invented only a few years ago by Islamists themselves to try and silence their critics. (Sorry, it hasn't worked.)

Some of the things outlined in this article that I find troubling are Salaita's attempts to organize an academic boycott of Israel. As to other professors, I note the account of UC Riverside's Professor David Lloyd and others putting together a speaking event by noted anti-Israel agitator Omar Barghouti and assigning students to attend. I was present at that event, and when I took the organizers to task during the q and a and asked whether they were going to balance their presentation to their students by inviting an opposing voice, Lloyd responded by defending Barghouti and calling the question "preposterous". The video can be viewed here.

Professor David Klein of California State University at Northridge as stated above, has used the university list server to spread propaganda to his students about Israel, which in my view is an abuse of his position and misuse of university resources. CSUN does not agree with my assessment, however. To me that indicates they agree with Klein's anti-Israel message.

As for CSUSF professor Rabab Abdulhadi (also described in the article), its seems to me that the university should seriously investigate what influence she has had on her students either in the classroom or those she mentors given the deadly expressions some of them have uttered about murdering Israelis. As to her use of university funds for a trip that was misrepresented, that should also be investigated.

Two things are clear: As stated by the authors, our universities are out of control when it comes to spewing radical propaganda, and secondly, the Israeli-Palestinian issue has been pushed to the fore of all the issues that consume the students interests and passions. Why is it that of all the issues competing for our attention in the world this one issue is the number one hot topic issue on campus?

It is because of a well-organized and well-financed campaign by pro-Palestinian forces to delegitimize the Jewish state in the eyes of Americans-especially the future leaders of this country who are walking on our university campuses today.

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