Below, you will find a small selection of letters supporting the defense of academic freedom, including:
- FIRE letter to Chancellor Yang
- (click here to read an article written by FIRE soon after the above letter sent to Chancellor Yang, which acknowledges Prof. Robinson’s victory and the dropped charges)
- The March 25 Coalition and the Immigrant Rights Community
- Stanley Heller, host of “The Struggle” television show and from West Haven, CT
- Eliot Clingman from San Diego, CA
- Tali Shapiro from Israel
- Larry Saltzman from Santa Barbara, CA
- Mr. and Mrs. Murray Bernstein from New York
- Michael L. Marowitz, Attorney at Law from San Rafael, CA
- Tariq Khan from Hertfordshire, UK
- Mr. Frederick Yukic from Santa Cruz, CA
- Deborah J. Mardon, a mother of two-college bound children
- Raffi from Los Angeles
- Ron Rattner, a retired attorney from the San Francisco Bay Area
- Richard E. Cross from Tarrytown, NY
- Joe Emersberger from Ontario, Canada
- Delia La Barre from New Orleans, LA
The March 25 Coalition and immigrant rights community:
Dear Chancellor Yang,
We, members of the March 25 Coalition and of the Immigrant Rights Community in the US, are all deeply disturbed and shocked to hear about charges being pursued against Professor Robinson, with whom we have had a long association. His work, participation, advise, contributions and writings on the crucial issue of immigration reform and transnational globalization of labor have been invaluable to us. Additionally his work as a sociologist has always been marked by objectivity, academic rigor and high standards of scholarship. The charges of anti-Semitism and of violation of the Faculty Code of Conduct, based on an email he sent to his class condemning the Israeli assault in Gaza, are clearly without merit. First, criticism of the state of Israel and of Israeli leaders and government policy obviously does not constitute anti-Semitism, which is defined as “hatred toward Jews – individually or as a group – that can be attributed to the Jewish religion or ethnicity.” Second, the information that Prof. Robinson sent was certainly relevant for a course on global issues and in no way involved harassment of students nor “a misuse of University resources…on a significant scale.”
It appears in fact that University officials have violated university procedures in bringing these charges. The right to present controversial material in the context of a course – including opinions that may be deeply disturbing to some students – is an essential element of academic freedom.. This includes the right to criticize government actions, whether they be American, Israeli, or those of any other government.
We request that the Academic Senate dismiss these charges, apologize to Professor Robinson, and publicly uphold the right of Prof. Robinson and other members of the University community to discuss controversial issues in a free and open environment.
Javier Rodriguez Political and Media Strategist March 25 Coalition
Gloria Saucedo and Alicia Flores Directors Hermandad Mexicana Trans-Nacional Panorama City and Oxnard
Stanley Heller, host of “The Struggle” television show and from West Haven, CT:
Dear President Yang:
As a Jew who lost family in the Holocaust and as a teacher finishing my 39th year of teaching I’m appalled at the investigation into the email Professor William Robinson sent to his students during the January attacks in Gaza. It is not anti-Semitic to criticize Israeli government actions. What Israel did in Gaza in January was horrific and inexcusable. Comparisons to Nazi acts and other barbarities are inevitable.
As far as the charge that the email was unrelated to the course that seems wrongheaded. He was teaching a course on contemporary global affairs and routinely sent out emails about current world events. What could be more current than the Israeli attack? His actions should be protected by academic freedom.
I would not be impressed by the charges brought by the ADL and its ilk. The Anti-Defamation League and Weisenthal Center have long ago subordinated their primary missions and made their major focus blind support of Israeli governments and intimidation of its critics.
I urge the immediate dismissal of all of the charges against Professor Robinson as, unfounded, and malicious.
West Haven, CT
Eliot Clingman from San Diego, CA:
To Whom It May Concern,
I am an entrepreneur in the finance industry, who follows foreign policy on an amateur basis. I am writing you with respect to disciplinary proceedings at the UCSB regarding Sociology and Global Studies Professor William I. Robinson.
I understand that in February 2009, Professor Robinson received notice from the Academic Senate’s Charges Committee that two of his students had filed charges against him. The students alleged that an email forward he’d circulated to his class, criticizing Israel’s then-ongoing siege on Gaza, comprised anti-semitism. I have read these students’ charges (available at https://sb4af.wordpress.com/robinson-case/charges/first-student-complaint/) and they are patently absurd on their face. In particular the first complaint’s logic fitting the professor’s email to a violation of the university’s code of contact is tendentious, artificial and legalistic….perhaps she had been provided unofficial drafting advise by the ADL legal staff, who have been making hay at UCSB while the sun shines.
Granted, Professor Rob showed a certain lack of intellectual imagination in his email to his class, committing the logical fallacy
of “Reductio ad Hitlerum” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum) But that is certainly no violation of the Code of Contact (hehe)!
This is by no means the first time that pro-Zionist activists have targeted the Universities, damaging and destroying careers there, because the Universities are the only serious element in the USA that doesn’t accept the mainstream consensus of unqualified support for Israel right or wrong. For example, the respected academic Juan Cole was not offered a professorship at Yale as a result of outside pressure. Indeed campus watch (http://www.campus-watch.org) is devoted full time to such bullying against academe. And self-righteous law Professor Alan Dershowtiz, the illustrious advocate of torture warrants, has been a big player as well.
In view of this ongoing national campaign of intimidation, it is vital that UCSB put a stop to this absurd witch-hunt in order to weaken the momentum of the larger campaign.
Criticism of Israeli policy and leaders should not be considered antisemitism, as this would place it as a nation-state uniquely immune from criticism, unlike every other nation-state in the world. And to paraphrase Lord Acton, immunity from criticism corrupts, and absolute immunity from criticism corrupts absolutely, removing checks and balances from state behavior.
Eliot Clingman, San Diego
Tali Shapiro from Israel:
To Whom It May Concern,
As an Israeli, living in Israel and opposing my government’s policies, I know all too well how similar my country is to Nazi Germany, militarily, socially, and politically. It’s also akin to apartheid South Africa. The point of comparing history to the present is to educate ourselves by precedent. As you, as an educational institution should be doing. If you don’t approve of the Professor’s method’s, maybe you should see about democratically debating something you deem more appropriate. You might want to include your students in the debate and give them a real lesson in democracy.
I’ve read Professor Robinson’s email and feel he was responsible in explaining his claims. (Whether this was course related or not may not be for me to judge, but it looks pretty relevant from my laywoman’s chair.) On the ADL’s claim that no accurate comparison can be made between Israel and Nazi Germany, they seem to forget that incidents don’t have to be identical, just similar. They also don’t seem to realize how deeply rooted the policy, ideology and plan to persecute, exterminate and expel Palestinians is. I do. I went to school here, I watch (like a hawk) the mainstream media here, and I endure holidays here.
On the claims of the students that the email is anti-Semitic:
Ludicrous- Arabs are Semites, thus the Palestinians are Semites.
Although an Atheist, both my parents are Jews and many on my mother’s side lost their lives in Auschwitz. I’m very well attuned to the victimization of Jews. This is not it. The only time the word Jew and Jewish were uttered, were in regard to the Jewish woman who sent a letter to a Jewish paper, abhorring Israeli policy.
These two could have learned something, by opening up a debate in class, but instead opted to shut it up with cries of wolf. One student even wrote that he/she wanted to “get him to apologize” (not to “hear him out”), yet didn’t because “I feel that it will not make a difference for future students of his”. You never know if you never try, but if you fling accusations as harsh as these, that result in a man’s career, I think you have a personal responsibility to make sure you’re not mistaken. You, as administrators, could have been responsible educators and done the same.
Amazingly enough, the professor mentions the (by now very famous) tactic of defamation that many Jews utilize, when faced with the criticism of Israel, in this very email, and you unwittingly fall for it! Please wake up. If you continue to indulge these cries of wolf, when real anti-Semitism rears its ugly head, no one will care to listen.
Larry Saltzman from Santa Barbara, CA:
I am Jewish, a graduate of the UC system (UCLA), and a Santa Barbara resident. I am appalled that you have opened this investigation against Professor Robinson at the instigation of Abraham Foxman of the ADL. Professor Robinson’s comments and criticism of Israel were accurate, and were not even remotely anti-semitic. However, even were one to disagree with his assessment of the situation, criticizing Israel is not anti-semitic. Israel is just another country and doesn’t get a pass just because it is a Jewish state, or because our people suffered through the Holocaust. It is my understanding that Professor Robinson is himself Jewish, which makes the charges that he is anti-semitic even more outragious. It also demonstrates the lengths that some elements in the Jewish community will go to to suppress any and all criticism of Israel. Abraham Foxman does not speak for me or for a significant segment of the Jewish-American Community. I hav! e been appalled at the attacks he and others have launched on academic freedom with vendettas like the one he has unleashed on Professor Robinson.
I believe Professor Robinson is owed a full apology that his integrity is even being questioned for presenting an important and appropriate point of view to his students. That is why he is a teacher at the University in the first place. Challenging students and taking them out of their comfort zone is one of the most important things that can happen in a University Education. I find Abraham Foxman’s views repugnant to everything I believe, but were he a professor at UCSB, I would never dream of showing up at your office to demand his removal as an anti-semite because he criticized Jews like me, inside or outside of Israel. I would respect the right of the University to teach the broadest possible range of opinion, thought and scholarship.
I sincerely hope that UCSB will stop caving into this kind of pressure in the future. The school is seriously embarassing itself by having the Academic Senate institute this investigation. This smells of the same kind of harassment that was done to another distinguished Jewish-American professor Dr. Norman Finklestein. DePaul University has had their reputation permanently stained for knuckling under to similar unwarranted pressure, in this case, from Alan Dershowitz. Perhaps in both cases, the real anti-semitism is the attack on the reputations of two distinguished scholars for having the courage to tell the truth to their students. In telling the truth both men were following the best traditions of both Jewish and University intellectual life.
Santa Barbara, CA
Mr. and Mrs. Murray Bernstein from New York:
Dear Chancellor Yang,As college graduates who believe strongly in academic freedom, and as Jewish Americans, we write in support of Professor William Robinson who is now under attack – supposedly for being anti Semitic.Please understand that Israel is a state, a government, it is not the Jewish people. There are more Jews living outside Israel than in it and many Jews do not agree with Israeli policies.A critique of Israeli policies is not antiSemitism – it is a critique of government policies. Unfortunately some Zionists are trying to stop all criticism of Israel by labeling such critism anti-Semitism.It is essential to academic freedom that controversial views be aired in colleges and universities.We demand that all charges against Prof. Robinson be dropped.Sincerely,Mr. & Mrs. Murray Bernstein
Dear Chancellor Yang,I am a graduate of UC Berkeley and hold an advanced degree in law from Stanford Law School, where I specialized in constitutional law. I recently became aware that your university is considering taking some form of disciplinacy action against Dr. William I. Robinson of UC Santa Barbara’s Global and International Studies program because he sent his students a document critical of Israeli policies. Nothing would constitute a more egregious act in derogation of the principle of academic freedom nor of the principle of freedom of expression embodied in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution than proceeding to do this. It is particularly disturbing to learn that this assault on academic freedom is being undertaken by the University itself at the urging of two students who found Dr. Robinson’s views to be “intimidating” and by others outside the university community who labeled Dr. Robinson’s views as anti-semitic because they are critical of certain Israeli governmental actions.As a Jew, I have long lamented the propaganda war that has been waged by Zionists and their apologizers to marginalize those who don’t agree with them. Instead of arguing the merits of views espoused by speakers who hold opinions or beliefs contrary to theirs, they resort to argument ad hominem (attacking the speaker) by labeling them as “anti-semitic.” Employment of the “anti-semite card” illogically conflates criticism of Israeli state actions with anti-semitism; moreover, it horribly exploits the historical suffering of Jewish people. Nonetheless, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC), and other Israeli governmental sympathizers, such as Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School, have waged a vitriolic war of words against anyone who finds fault with the idea that Israel is a mere victim of terroistic acts, including a variety of academicians, which has, to a large extent, diverted attention from Israel’s own acts of state terrorism and human rights violations perpetrated against Arabs in the occupied territories and in a number of neighboring countries.
In the United Nations, Israel’s war tactics have been repeatedly and roundly condemned by virtually every country in the world save Israel, the United States, and by a handful of Pacific Island nations that the United States has rallied to Israel’s side. Does my observation of this fact make me anti-semitic? Is the almost unanimous world opinion that Israel has violated norms of international law in its treatment of Palestinians and other Arab peoples make all those countries who consequently voted for sanctions against Israel anti-semitic? If your policy of “intimidation” is applied in such as was as to silence Professor Robinson’s freedom of expression in order to protect what is tantamount to a form of political orthodoxy in the United States (but not elsewhere in the world), what other majoritarian views will be immune to debate because they are “intimidating” to some members of your campus? Will those who believe that abortion is the taking of a human life be silenced in the academic auditoriums and halls of the UC Santa Barbara campus? I can assure you that disciplining Professor Robinson for publishing his views, however controversial they may be, because they are “intimidating” or otherwise, would be struck down as unconstitutional by any California or federal court.
Of all places in a democratic society, the university must serve as the principal form for vigorous public debate on important social matters about which people disagree A university cannot retreat from its historic mission of entertaining rational discourse on moral, ethical, religious, or political issues of the day in the face of intellectual tyrants who find such discourse objectionable or “intimidating.” The university should be the last place that countenances book burners and intellectual tyrants, no matter what brand of intellectual tyranny they advance or defend.
Any attempt to discipline Professor Robinson for disseminating his views to his students should immediately be reconsidered and rejected. Indeed, the university should instead consider holding a national conference on academic freedom to remind the public at large of its preeminent value to a democratic society.
Michael L. Marowitz
Attorney at Law
San Rafael, California
Dear Chancellor,I am not a student or alumni of your University. In fact, I have never studied in the U.S. I live in a small village in Britain and news has reached even here that a respected Professor is being persecuted for what really amounts to a well justified criticism of Israel.
Professor Robinson, of course as I am sure you are well aware of, is one in a long series of Professors in the U.S. who are being persecuted by the Jewish lobbies. Professor Margo Ramial-Nankoe of Ithaca College is one of the recent victims of this persecution and we of course know of how Dr. Norman Finkelstein was hounded out of Clark’s tenure. But really to smear a Jewish Professor with accusations of anti-Semitism is beyond the pale – no pun intended.
I have seen the photographs which are at the centre of these absurd allegations. In fact, these have been widely circulated throughout the world. There is nothing offensive or anti-Semetic about them. Much heavier criticism of Israel has come from Professor Avi Shlaim published in a national UK newspaper and from Gerald Kaufman MP in the house of commons. It would be unthinkable that anyone would ask to end Professor Shlaim’s tenure from Oxford or for Mr. Kaufman to resign his seat in Parliament.
It is quite obvious that these two students don’t really know what anti-Semitism means – not much of a good advertisement for your institution. If they’d had a decent education they would have known that a Jewish critic of Israel is usually smeared with “neurotic self hating Jew”, a phrase coined by Abba Eban, a well known Israeli statesman, some 35 years ago and incidentally aimed at Noam Chomsky and one another for their criticism of Israel at the time. The smear of Anti-Semitic is normally reserved for criticism of Israel by gentiles.
For you to even consider these charges by these deluded and ignorant students is bad enough, but to consider meeting ADL’s Foxman, an ardent and uncompromising supporter of Israel, demonstrates a complete lack of objectivity and academic courage on your part. Are you going to allow him and others like him to effectively censor what you can and cannot teach in your educational institutions? By succumbing to his pressure, that is exactly the message you are sending to the wider world and indeed lies behind Foxman’s motivation to interfere.
I can see no reason why you should continue with this farcical kangaroo trial of a respected Professor. You must dismiss these charges as frivolous, unfounded and malicious. Indeed, you must go further and condemn not only these attacks against the learned Professor but more importantly condemn politically motivated and self serving organisations such as the ADL for interfering in what should have essentially been an internal matter for the University.
Dear Chancellor Yang,
I am a graduate of UC Davis (BS 1980, MS 1987). It is with great concern that I read tonight of the attacks on the academic freedom of Sociology and Global Studies Professor William I. Robinson for his dissemination of public information on the Israeli attacks on the Gaza strip. By giving credibility to frivolous complaints you are doing a disservice to the reputation of UCSB as a public institution of open and free academic learning. Clearly, a professor of global studies has the right to present controversial material relevant to current international events to students without the fear of interference from the administration, faculty, staff, students, or the community outside the university. This is an issue for debate by the academic community (i.e, the socioligists and global studies scholars), not for review by the academic senate. As chancellor you should reject the complaint as lacking “probable cause”.
I have three children, each of whom I hope will qualify to attend UC. I think that UCSB is the most beautiful campus in the UC system, and its academic reputation has been steadily increasing to the point that it is now one of the premier campuses. But, after learning that the clearly politically motivated charges of anti-semitism against Professor Robinson are being treated seriously by UCSB administration, I am reconsidering whether UCSB can actually provide a first rate education in accordance with the UC principles of education. I will follow this matter closely before deciding whether to direct my children to attend UCSB, or to direct them to another UC which exhibits a greater degree of academic freedom.Sincerely, Frederick A. Yukic, Santa Cruz
Deborah J. Mardon, a mother of two-college bound children:
Dear Chancellor Yang,
As a parent of 2 children, we have been very busy lately visiting colleges. How absolutely disturbing to find out that basic Academic Freedom was being attacked at UCSB. With the advent of the Iraq war, our family has sought to learn all it could about the conflict in the Middle East. We have been so horrified to see what has been happening to the Palestinians under the Israeli policies in the Occupied Territory. This is a very important time in our history to be talking about these issues. Silencing criticism of Israel under the guise of Anti-Semitism is the tactic used by ADL and others. The University should not be giving in to this pressure. As we look at colleges, it is of utmost importance to us to believe that where our children attend will be an open, engaged environment where knowledge can be acquired.
We are watching to see the results of this affair and hope that Prof. Robinson will be relieved of all these ridiculous charges, with apology and your University will not ever again fall under the pressure of outside witch hunts.
Raffi from Los Angeles:
Dear UCSB Administrators,
I found it very disturbing to read in the LA Times that Professor Robinson is under investigation for the email he sent his students. If the parallels between the photos of victims of Nazi policy and those of Israeli policy are so powerful, and the policies of race separation and confinement hold strong similarities, there is nothing anti-Semitic about pointing this out. Those who are concerned about the comparison would serve the cause of Israel and human rights much better by addressing and changing the policies of Israel, than by attacking those who point them out as a matter for discussion.
The Anti-Defamation League is hardly a model organization. They have for years fought the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, in order to appease Israel’s ally, Turkey. This self-serving organization is neither interested in human rights nor genocide prevention, only in what they perceive is in their narrow self-interest.
Let the students discuss a very poignant topic, look into the facts of the matter, and draw their own conclusions about what most of the world quite clearly sees is a massive violation of human rights.
We should rightfully be vigilant about keeping racism out of schools, and just as vigilant against the labeling of non-racist discourse as racist in order to prevent criticism or dialogue. This is clearly a case where we have to protect ourselves from false accusations, meant to stifle open discourse.
Raffi, Los Angeles
Ron Rattner, a retired attorney from the San Francisco Bay Area:
Dear Chancellor Yang:
As a Jewish-American attorney since the McCarthy era, I am deeply disturbed by UCSB’s politically instigated decision to investigate Professor William I. Robinson for alleged “anti-Semitism”. The “anti-Semitism” allegation is completely refuted by an unquestioned documentary record in this matter.
When controversial truth is suppressed on a campus known for its liberal traditions, we are in trouble. Academic freedom and free political speech are essential for maintaining democracy. As Albert Einstein observed:
“It is evident that any restriction on academic freedom acts in such a way as to hamper the dissemination of knowledge among the people and thereby impedes national judgment and action.”
Universities are for inquiries not inquisitions. Professor Robinson has a 15 year record of academic accomplishment and has served UCSB with distinction since 2001. Because of his prominence, his “investigation” would intimidate the academic community nationwide against seeking or discussing controversial truth, especially concerning Israel/Palestine, and would become a misguided precedent for future restriction of academic freedom.
To remain a great institution, UCSB must transcend transient political pressures, keeping academic freedom and political freedom of speech inviolate for its posterity.
Hence, I urge you to reject ill-founded and anti-democratic political pressures and motivations, and to immediately terminate the patently unfounded “investigation” of Professor Robinson.
Ron Rattner, retired attorney, San Francisco
Richard E. Cross from Tarrytown, NY:
Dear Dr. Yang and faculty members,
I would like to add my personal dismay to that of others over the attack on academic freedom at your institution.
A discussion of Israeli policies vis-à-vis Gaza and the West Bank must be a part of any academic curriculum. To silence discussion of this topic is an outrage and unworthy of an American institution of higher learning.
Confusing the state of Israel with the Jewish people is a big leap of logic. Israel and its policies, like the policies of any other state, must be open to criticism. To hide legitimate criticism of the state of Israel under the cover of “anti-Semitism” is a cop-out. As a matter of fact the harshest criticism of such behavior comes from Israelis themselves. If you would take to the time to read the Israeli press, e.g. Ha’aretz, you would know this. The charge of anti-Semitism is bogus in this instance and all too often used as the “great silencer.”
Richard E. Cross, M.A., M.S.
Tarrytown, New York
Joe Emersberger from Ontario, Canada:
You should immediatly dismiss the charges of anti-Semitism made against William Robinson. The longer you wait to do so, the more will be gained by the enemies of free speech. One hardly needs a university degree or drawn out “investigation” to distinguish between criticism of Israeli policy and anti-semitism. You should be able to do this very quickly.
Windsor Ontario Canada
Delia LaBarre from New Orleans, LA:
Dear Chancellor Yang:
I was dismayed to learn that yet another academic at a U.S. university is being persecuted for his criticism of Israel and the U.S. government’s unconditional support of its actions. One can expect nothing more from the likes of Abraham Foxman, director of the organization The Nation more aptly calls the “Defamation League,” for he does nothing but chase after phantoms he claims are anti-Semitic. He has become more frenetic of late, since so many Americans, including myself, decided to learn what the media hasn’t been telling us about the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Distressed at what I was witnessing, thanks to courageous journalists inside Gaza, during Israel’s recent 22-day offensive and the sheer propaganda I was seeing in the Times-Picayune of New Orleans, I wrote a letter to the editor complaining about columns by Charles Krauthammer and Cal Thomas, who have acted as apologists for Israel’s crimes in Gaza, and about the local cartoonist who had drawn up an ahistorical narrative in the same vein. I wrote that the conditions Israel has inflicted on the Palestinians of Gaza have evoked for many of us images of the Warsaw Ghetto, and caused the Vatican Minister for Justice and Peace to call Gaza “a large concentration camp.” Of course my letter provoked condemnation by the local Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, which is, by all appearances, a Zionist organization, contributes to the ADL, and featured at that time on its front page a video produced during its recent gathering to sing Israel’s national anthem and pray for Israel, and on which the organization’s president, who happens to be a pediatrician, served as the organization’s primary apologist for the necessity of Israel’s indiscriminate (at least at that time we didn’t know how deliberate it often was) killing of women and children, and other innocent civilians. Were I not self-employed, it’s likely that the ADL would be trying to have my head served to them on a platter as well. They’ve done it to university professors here who have tried to hold seminars on the Palestinian viewpoint.
I hope and like to think that I would have written that letter even if I had not been self-employed. I well remember the college course I took on literature of the Holocaust, taught by my favorite Enlgish literature professor, Richard Gage, a Jew from Brooklyn. It was challenging; it was of course very depressing to confront human evil, even if only through literature. I recall asking myself what I would do were there, a non-Jew in Germany at that time. I read Leon Uris’s Mila 18, as well as nonfiction works about the Warsaw Ghetto. Of course there are many differences between the Warsaw Ghetto and the Gaza Strip, but there also many disturbing similiarities. These comparisons of Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians to the Third Reich’s of European Jews have not been made by me and others, including Professor Robinson, out of malice or out of a hatred of Jews or Judaism, as Abe Foxman would have it. The similarities rise from the place of survival instincts that we all possess but few comprehend until it’s too late. I am quite certain that what motivated Professor Robinson to send the e-mail in question is a love for humanity and the will to avert an even worse crime and tragedy than the world has already witnessed in the Middle East. I do not know Professor Robinson, but as a Jew I would guess that he feels that he has additional responsibility to speak out against Israel’s crimes, which are our crimes as well.
Millions of Germans claimed they didn’t know what was being done to Jews. Perhaps many didn’t, or perhaps it was only through willful ignorance that people didn’t know. Today, in our information age, the information which Foxman would like to censor has been available to us for some time, but it’s only beginning to be made available in the dominant media, but not without virulent attacks by Foxman and the forces he calls forth to harass and intimidate anyone who dares to break the taboo they have set down as if it were a commandment by none other than Moses: Thou shalt not criticize Israel.
Chancellor Yang, surely you know that there is nothing anti-Semitic or or anti-Judaic about criticism of Israel. In fact, I submit that it is quite the opposite of anti-Semitism for Professor Robinson to criticize Israel for its actions.
When Israel launched its offensive against Gaza in late December, I was a member of a Yahoo group made up primarily of Jews. I thought it would be an opportunity to learn more about Judaism. Once the bombing began, I learned something very unpleasant. It turned out that just about everyone in the group were what I would call real anti-Semites, considering that few if any were actually Semites, and almost all of them expressed a type of hatred I had never personally encountered. Mind you, I grew up in the South, so I have witnessed racism, and have encountered racists. But these people were saying that Palestinians were less than human and they should all be killed, then that they were actually less than animals, because animals care for their young and these people did not.
If not for Jews like Professor Robinson and so many other Jews–people like those at J Street, who are becoming the political voice of the majority of American Jews, and who are speaking out against Israel and U.S. policy that coddles and enables Israel’s inhuman and illegal treatment of Palestinians–I might have decided that I should be opposed to Judaism if that is the morality that pre-Christian religion induced in people. Sadly, it is Abraham Foxman who is anti-Jew, it is Abraham Foxman who is thoroughly anti-Semitic, for it is he who hates Palestinians, and it is he who hates Jews. Is he not acting with malice against Professor Robinson for criticizing Israel’s assault against innocent Palestinians in Gaza whom they locked inside the Strip and had nowhere to which to flee? Has Foxman not acted with malice against Bob Simon, another Jew, for his January segment on 60 Minutes which exposed the settlers, the Separation Wall, and the inhamanity of Israeli occupation soldiers in the West Bank? Is it not Abe Foxman who is reinforcing the hatred of neo-Nazis in this country? If anti-Semitism didn’t exist, Abe Foxman would have to invent it in order to have a job, and he has many critics who insist that that’s exactly what and why he does what he does. He undoubtedly gets paid handsomely to do what he does, which contributes nothing positive to society.
It’s unfortunate that the students who dropped out of Professor Robinson’s course because they disapproved of an e-mail they received from him and tattled to the ADL. Young college students are often but carriers of their parents’ prejudices, and increasingly lack critical thinking skills to analyze reading material in any way but through the screen of those biases. However, what’s really disturbing is that more and more students are graduating from U.S. universities with hardly any better critical thinking skills than when they arrived. Chancellor Yang, how many of your university’s curricula have a mandatory course in informal logic or enough English composition coursework so that students write their own letters of complaint?
If University of California at Santa Barbara wants to be taken seriously as an institution of higher education, it should at least dismiss Abe Foxman’s demands as an outside agitator, and request, at the very least, that any complaint be made by the students themselves in writing, explaining congently why they object to what they received from Professor Robinson and why they dropped his course. I’m willing to bet that they are probably incapable of writing such a document that, if graded objectively, could be given a passing grade.
As for whether or not the material Professor Robinson e-mailed to his students has any relevance to the course in which the students had enrolled, it sounds like it most certainly does. The best universerty professors are engaged with their students, and show the relevance of current world affairs to the historic events taking place. The best universities are those that protect academic freedom. Unless the charges against Professor Robinson are dropped, a degree from UC-Santa Barbara will be devalued. Who should be proud of having a degree from a university that takes directions from the Defamation League’s Abe Foxman and suppresses academic freed and freedom of speech?
Abraham Foxman and the ADL should be treated with the same disdain. His is a pathology not easily treated, although easily diagnosed. Hopefully you have the wisdom and fortitude to stand up to his tyranny and be a part of restoring what’s been lost of this country’s domcracy. Professor William Robinson should be commended by the administration and his peers for speaking up for humanity and ringing the alarm bells, and we should all be heeding them, not the false alarms of Abe Foxman. Israel has been enabled by the U.S. to act with impunity against Palestinians, and they have committed, and continue to commit, crimes against humanity. Israel is in violation of international laws as you read this. Abe Foxman’s behavior has been reinforced by institutions such as yours that continue to take his accusations seriously, while ignoring what he is desparately trying to keep Americans, especially university students from finding out about Israel.