AMCHA’S Responses to Antisemitic Activity at California State University Northridge
2. University-Sponsored Speaking Tour of Ilan Pappe on 3 CSU Campuses – Including CSUN
CSU Abuse of Public Resources
- INCIDENT: Prof. Ilan Pappe, an anti-Israel professor, who has publicly called for the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state, was flown from London to speak on several CSU campuses in February 2012. This speaking tour was organized and promoted by CSU administrators and faculty members and used university resources to do so. At CSUN, the announcement for Pappe’s talk was emailed widely to the campus community by the Office of Academic Affairs, which, according to the CSUN website, is directed by interim President Harry Hellenbrand. Although co-sponsored by several student groups, the Academic Affairs announcement clearly indicated that Pappe’s talk was an official University event, stating: “California State University, Northridge presents: A lecture by Ilan Pappe.” In addition, the Academic Affairs announcement provided links to two flyers, which appeared on the CSUN web server of the Boycott Israel Resources webpage posted by Professor David Klein, the faculty sponsor for two of the student groups sponsoring the event.
- 2/13/12 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Inititaive wrote to the president of the CSU system as well as the presidents of the individual campuses where Pappe spoke, alerting them of Pappe’s animus towards the Jewish state, as well as the animus of the administrators and faculty members that organized the tour.
- 2/13/12 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative produced a video explaining our concerns.
- 2/16/12 – CSU’S RESPONSE: The Presidents of the 3 CSU campuses where Ilan Pappe was scheduled to appear – Jeffery Armstrong at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, John Welty of CSU Fresno, and Harry Hellenbrand of CSU Northridge – issued a statement affirming the “academic freedom” of the faculty organizers of Pappe’s tour to use university resources to promote Pappe’s politically-motivated and directed tour.
1. CSU Northridge Professor David Klein’s Website Promoting the Boycott of Israel
*Compiled Image of Quotes and Images from Prof. David Klein’s CSUN-hosted “Boycott Israel Resources Page”
- INCIDENT: Over the last 5 years, Prof. David Klein has inappropriately used university resources on several occasions, including posting antisemitic pictures and text on a “Boycott Israel” webpage hosted by CSUN and by using CSUN email for political campaign activity.
- GENERAL OVERVIEW OF AMCHA’S RESPONSE: We began by asking President Emeritus Joelene Koester to investigate and take action. President Koester did not remove the antisemitic content hosted on CSUN’s webpage. Chancellor Reed was then asked, and he refused to take any action. Professor Klein in the interim misused his CSUN email for political campaign activity. New CSUN President Dianne Harrison informed AMCHA that the matter had been investigated. While the university may have appropriately taken the issue of Prof. Klein’s misuse of university resources for political campaigning seriously, they have as yet failed to remove his antisemitic website or the antisemitic content on it. AMCHA took the issue to the CSU Board of Trustees, who stated that they did not give Klein permission to use the server to promote a boycott. AMCHA turned to CSUN President Harrison in light of the new information, who firmly stated that the matter was closed and that the university would not engage in further communications on the issue. AMCHA then wrote to the CA State Attorney General Harris asking for a re-investigation in light of new evidence.
- 11/22/11 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA co-founders sent a letter to President Joelene Koester, apprising her of Professor Klein’s antisemitic webpages and urging her to have them removed from the CSUN server.
- 12/5/11 – CSUN’S RESPONSE: President Koester sent AMCHA co-founders a response to the initial concerned email. While graciously acknowledging AMCHA’s concerns, she failed to address them, instead excusing the hateful content that Professor Klein inappropriately promotes on a CSUN website.
- 12/7/2011 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: Two days later, AMCHA co-founders sent President Koester a response. It thanked President Koester for her attention but criticized her for not removing Professor Klein’s antisemitic webpages.
- 12/8/11 – CSUN’S RESPONSE: President Koester responded to AMCHA co-founder, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, in a dismissive email that simply said: “Too bad.”
- 12/9/11 – CSUN’S RESPONSE: After President Koester received numerous emails from AMCHA Initiative supporters regarding her message to Tammi containing the words “too bad,” President Koester sent out a “message of apology.”
- 12/12/11 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA co-founder Tammi Rossman-Benjamin responded to President Koester’s apology. In her response, Tammi reiterated CSUN’s obligation to remove defamatory and offensive content from its websites.
- 2/6/12 – AMCHA & COMMUNITY’S RESPONSE: The AMCHA Initiative sent a letter signed by over 1,800 members and supporters of the California Jewish community to Chancellor Reed, urging him to exercise his authority to ensure that the web pages would be removed.
- 4/16/12 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: Following on the letter sent in February – which was signed by over 1,800 members and supporters of the California Jewish community to Chancellor Reed, urging him to remove several anti-Semitic websites from CSU servers, AMCHA co-founders sent a letter asking Chancellor Reed a simple question: Do the CSU rules of academic freedom protect faculty and administrators who use their university positions and state resources to engage in political activities that promote anti-Semitic actions, such as the boycott of Israel?
- 6/1/12 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: Following a statement issued by the California Attorney General Kamela Harris claiming that there was insufficient evidence to support the allegation that Prof. Klein had violated state law, AMCHA Initiative sent a letter to Attorney General Harris and Deputy Attorney General Haytayan appealing to them to review new material regarding Prof. Klein’s virulent website.
- 6/7/12 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative sent an additional letter to Attorney General Harris and Deputy Attorney General Haytayan, highlighting a concerning article in the Electronic Intifada, which provided further evidence that Prof. Klein may have violated state law.
- 10/29/12 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative sent a letter to CSU General Counsel Helwick asking him whether Prof. Klein’s anti-Semitic website on the CSUN server is a violation of Cal. Gov. Code 8314 and Cal Educ. Code 89005.5 and CSU Policy.
- 8/13/13 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative sent a letter to CSUN President Harrison informing her of Prof. Klein’s inappropriate use of university email for political campaign activity.
- 8/15/13 – CSUN’S RESPONSE: President Harrison informs AMCHA that the University has investigated the matter and taken appropriate action.
- 9/18/13 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative sent a letter to the CSU Board of Trustees asking them if they had given Prof. Klein permission to use the CSUN server and his email account to promote the boycott of Israel, as California Education Code 89005.5 requires the permission of the CSU Trustees before the CSU name can be displayed or used to promote a boycott.
- 9/23/13 – CSUN’S RESPONSE: CSU Interim Legal Counsel Jones responded to AMCHA Initiative but failed to answer the question of whether or not the CSU Board of Trustees had given Prof. Klein permission.
- 9/24/13 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative sent a second email to the Board of Trustees, expressing disappointment that Interim Counsel Jones ignored AMCHA’s question. They once again asked if the Trustees had given their permission for Prof. Klein to use the CSU name and resources to promote a boycott.
- 9/25/13 – CSUN’S RESPONSE: Interim Legal Counsel Jones sent an email to AMCHA confirming that the CSU Trustees did not give permission for Prof. Klein to use the CSU name to promote a boycott.
- 9/25/13 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Co-Founder Tammi Rossman Benjamin spoke at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting and asked them what they intended to do about Prof. Klein’s improper use of University resources to promote a boycott of Israel, a potential violation of the California Education Code.
- 9/30/13 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: The AMCHA Initiative sent a letter to CSUN President Dianne Harrison revisiting the question of removing Klein’s webpage in light of the CSU Trustees’ confirmation of not having given Klein permission to post content promoting the boycott of Israel on the CSU server.
- 10/4/13 – CSUN’S RESPONSE: In a letter defending the position and findings of the university’s inquiry into Klein’s page, President Harrison stated that Education Code 89005.5 was not being violated by Klein. Harrison firmly stated that the matter was closed and that the university would not engage in further communications on the issue.
- 10/4/13 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative continued to seek an explanation of why the university did not consider Klein’s Boycott Israel page to be in violation of the Education Code, and pressed Harrison despite her dismissive response.
- 10/8/13 – CSUN’S RESPONSE: General Counsel Jones stated that Klein had not violated the Education Code because he had not used or invoked the CSU name in support or endorsement of his viewpoint, despite the fact that CSU hosted Klein’s page on its server, and despite the presence of CSU’s name in the URL of his page.
- 10/10/13 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA responded to General Counsel Jones, citing clearly the presence of CSUN’s name in his Boycott Israel page and email address, in an attempt to show that the Education Code was violated by him displaying the CSUN name publicly and in connection with support, endorsement, or advancement of boycott activity.
- 1/9/14 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: In a statement of opposition to the American Studies Association’s academic boycott of Israel, CSUN President Harrison affirmed that “academic boycotts violate the basic tenets of higher education, including academic freedom.” In light of her statement, AMCHA Initiative sent another email to President Harrison requesting that Klein’s Boycott Israel page be taken down.
- 1/29/14 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA wrote to CA State Attorney General Harris, presenting new evidence in support of the claim that Klein’s page was in violation of California Education Code and California Government Code, and that Klein had misappropriated CSU’s name and resources for personal purposes.
- 4/29/14 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: More than 1,000 California residents sign an AMCHA Petition asking legislators to help stop University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) faculty from using taxpayer dollars for antisemitism. The petition referenced Klein’s use of university resources to host his “Boycott Israel Reference Page” on CSUN servers.
- 1/29/15 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: After there is no response from CA Attorney General Kamala Harris following the letter a year ago by AMCHA Initiative, AMCHA sent another letter, to CA Attorney General Kamala Harris stating, “This matter clearly requires legal adjudication, and yet after one year you still have not provided us with answers to the reasonable legal questions we raised. Given the importance of this matter not only to the Jewish community but to all citizens of the state, we request that you do one of the following: If Klein is in violation of state law, then please ensure that his “Boycott Israel Resource Page” is removed from the CSUN server and that Professor Klein is appropriately sanctioned for his illegal behavior. If Klein has not violated California law, then please publicly clarify for us, and for the citizens of California, why the substantial evidence presented in the letter we sent you one year ago fails to demonstrate that Klein has violated state or federal law.”
- 2/5/15 – AMCHA’S & COALITION RESPONSE: 24 organizations follow on AMCHA’s letter and write a letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris stating, “24 organizations with hundreds of thousands of members and supporters nationwide, many of them citizens of California. We are deeply concerned about the actions of California State University Northridge Mathematics Professor David Klein who for the last five years has been using the CSUN web server to host his politically-motivated “Boycott Israel Resource Page,” aspects of which meet the definition of antisemitism adopted by the U.S. State Department…Many members of the Jewish community and concerned citizens of this state are appalled that a mathematics professor at a California state university is permitted to use the taxpayer-funded university website to post antisemitic material and promote an illegal boycott of Israel, and they are troubled that the state Attorney General is unwilling to even respond to these serious concerns. Klein’s blatant abuse of power and taxpayer dollars must be stopped. We urge you to address AMCHA’s and our concerns as soon as possible: If Klein is in violation of state law, then please ensure that his “Boycott Israel Resource Page” is removed from the CSUN server and that Professor Klein is appropriately sanctioned for his illegal behavior. If Klein has not violated California law, then please publicly clarify for the citizens of California why the substantial evidence presented in the letter that was sent to you one year ago fails to demonstrate that Klein has violated state or federal law.”