Letter to UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks Regarding Dr. Hatem Bazian’s Call for “International Day of Action on College Campuses: Free Palestine and End the Siege on Gaza”
To: Chancellor Dirks
September 2, 2014
Dear Chancellor Dirks,
We represent 15 organizations with hundreds of thousands of members and supporters nationwide, who are deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of Jewish students on campuses across the country, particularly in light of the current unrest in the Middle East.
We would like to bring to your attention a matter that directly affects Jewish students at UC Berkeley.
Dr. Hatem Bazian, a UC Berkeley lecturer in Near Eastern Studies, has posted to his Facebook page an announcement of an “International Day of Action on College Campuses: Free Palestine and End the Siege on Gaza,” which is to take place on September 23. The posting includes the following message:
A call for activists and organizations on campuses across the world to organize massive protests on every college and university campus. Make Free Palestine and Ending the Siege on Gaza part of campus education by holding teach-ins, rallies, sit-ins, civil disobedience, and push for BDS activities.
No to Academic Complicity with Israeli Occupation
No to Study Abroad Programs in Israel
No Investments in Apartheid and Occupation Supporting Companies
No to University Presidents’ Visits to Israel
No Campus Police Training or Cooperation with Israeli Security
No Joint Research or Conferences with Israeli Institutions
No Cooperation with Hasbara Networks on College Campuses
No to Targeting Faculty for Speaking Against Israeli Crimes
No to Administrative Limits on Free Speech Rights of Palestine Activists
No to University Coordination and Strategizing with the ADL, JCRC, AJC, Stand With US, ZOA, Israeli Consulate to Limit Students Pro-Palestine Constitutionally Protected Activities.
Free Palestine, End the Siege on Gaza and Build the Movement on Your Campus!
We are deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of Jewish students around these events. In the wake of the Israel-Gaza conflict, global antisemitism has reached levels not seen since the Holocaust. Jews throughout the world are being targeted for threats, physical assaults and murder, and Jewish property for desecration and destruction. While we fully support academic freedom and students’ freedom of expression, these types of demonstrations can result in antisemitic rhetoric and violent behavior, creating a hostile and unsafe environment for Jewish students. Just days ago, a Jewish student at Temple University was punched in the face and called “baby-killer, racist, Zionist pig” and “kike” as he stood next to a table run by the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
As you may be aware, the UC Berkeley SJP group, which was in fact founded by Dr. Bazian himself when he was a graduate student in 2001, has a long history of engaging in antisemitic behaviors targeting Jewish and pro-Israel students for harassment, intimidation, bullying and even assault. Dr. Bazian’s call for students to engage in aggressive and potentially illegal actions against Israel and its campus supporters — actions that include “civil disobedience” — can only exacerbate the already hostile environment for pro-Israel Jewish students and create the conditions that could well lead to violence on your campus.
Moreover, Professor Bazian is promoting an academic boycott of Israel which calls for shutting down opportunities for students to study in Israel and severing all ties with Israeli universities and scholars — a boycott which more than 250 university presidents, including yourself, have called a subversion of academic freedom, and which has been decried as antisemitic by government officials and Jewish leaders. Furthermore, we believe that it is highly inappropriate for Dr. Bazian, a faculty member at UC Berkeley, to incite students to engage in “civil disobedience”, behavior which is potentially illegal and may lead to adverse consequences for the students and others.
We wanted to bring this to your attention immediately so you could monitor the behavior of SJP and other student organizations involved in the September 23 Day of Action, and ensure, through the use of campus police and administrative oversight, that behavior which violates university policy or the law will be swiftly and appropriately addressed, and that Jewish and pro-Israel students will not be harassed, intimidated, bullied or assaulted.
Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi)
Americans for Peace and Tolerance
Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel
National Conference on Jewish Affairs
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Simon Wiesenthal Center
The Lawfare Project
Zionist Organization of America
Cc: UC President Janet Napolitano
California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson
California Senator Carol Liu, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Education
California Assembly Member Das Williams, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education
California Assembly Member Shirley Weber, Chair of the Select Committee on Campus Climate
California State Senator Marty Block, Chair of Legislative Jewish Caucus