April 29, 2009

US Israel lobby claims another academic victim

Here's a disturbing story in Inside Higher Ed about the Israel lobby in America trying to ruin yet another academic's career so as to stifle criticism of Israel. It's quite long but I think you'll get the gist here:
Everyone involved in the dispute over William I. Robinson talks about lines being crossed.

A tenured professor of sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Robinson said that his critics have crossed lines of fairness by equating his criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, and that the faculty judicial system is crossing lines that are supposed to protect academic freedom by investigating him.

His critics say that he crossed a line of professionalism by sending e-mail to all of the students in one of his courses material about "parallel" images of Nazi and Israeli attacks. Some students view the material as anti-Semitic, and they quit the course and filed a grievance against him.......

At issue is an e-mail message that Robinson sent to the approximately 80 students in January in a course about sociology and globalization. The e-mail contained an an article criticizing the Israeli military's actions in Gaza. Part of the e-mail was an assemblage of photos from Nazi Germany's persecution of Jews and from Israel's actions in Gaza. Students were invited to look at the "parallel images." A message from Robinson argued that Gaza would be like "Israel's Warsaw."

In February, the Anti-Defamation League's Santa Barbara office wrote to Robinson to protest the e-mail and to urge him to repudiate it.

It's always a toughie when cutting bits from an article. What to include, what to omit, that sort of thing. Here's a professor, a tenured professor, he's sent an email to eighty or so students comparing Gaza to the Warsaw ghetto and two of the students have gone to the Anti-Defamation League about it who in turn seem to have advised the students to make a formal complaint. The complaint appears to have no substance, if you read the article in full you will see that, but the college is pretending at least to take it seriously but not so seriously that it will adhere to its own procedures, just so seriously as to save themselves from hassle from the ADL but that much could leave the professor without a job. But please read the whole thing, see if I'm wrong.

Counterpunch has something on it here.

A petition has been got up for William I Robinson has been got up here.

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