Newsweek explains how a Palestinian history class at Berkeley caused an international furor

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tags: Israel, Palestine



Last year, Hadweh took an Arabic course with Hatem Bazian, an Islamic scholar at Berkeley who has been involved in political activism that, some say, seeks to delegitimize and malign Israel. Over the summer, Bazian helped Hadweh create a DeCal course called Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis.

According to the syllabus submitted for review, the course would “explore the connection between Zionism and settler colonialism,” as well as “the possibilities of a decolonized Palestine, one in which justice is realized for all its peoples.” The readings plainly suggest an antipathy to the Zionist project and hence Israel itself: Edward Said, dissenting soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces, theorists of post-colonialism. Zionism is frequently mentioned in the syllabus; Israel, almost not at all.

I asked Hadweh if his course calls for the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. He met this question with disgust, explaining that there is no getting rid of Jews from a land they call home. “I’m deemed anti-Semitic because I fundamentally believe we can all live together.”...

Hadweh and his supporters thought Berkeley administrators were bowing to political pressure and media coverage; detractors thought the university was allowing anti-Semitism to flourish. There were charges of academic freedom being usurped and of that freedom being perverted for political gains. “It's a matter of double standard,” says Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard Law professor and a frequent defender of Israel. “The critical question is: Would an anti-Palestinian mirror image course be accepted? Academic freedom requires a neutral single standard of evaluation.




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