The Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB (CDAF-SB) strongly opposes the flagrant and baseless affronts to academic freedom on this campus and to Professor Robinson in particular. We believe these allegations have been brought in order to silence any criticism of Israeli policies and practices. Furthermore, we consider the umbrage against Professor Robinson to have been fomented by non-university forces that have infiltrated the academic setting to wage a war of political repression. We find this non-academic infiltration to be an unacceptable attack on the scholarly exchange of ideas that is the most compelling interest of the university.
Accordingly, we demand the immediate dismissal of all of the charges against Professor Robinson as frivolous, unfounded, and malicious. Any further consideration of these baseless attacks is unacceptable. As a coordinated group of undergraduate and graduate students, we will not accept any resolution of this matter that is unfavorable to Professor Robinson and academic freedom.
CDAF-UCSB also insists that the attack on Professor Robinson’s academic freedom, one that ominously recalls similar campaigns against other critical academics across the nation, be publicly condemned. This condemnation is essential to preserve full and fair discussion within the most important of the U.S.’s civic institutions. Any genuine consideration of these absurd attacks will have a severe chilling effect on the production and dissemination of scholarly research in all disciplines. Further, the attacks must be condemned to protect faculty and students from wasting valuable time and energy defending themselves against frivolous allegations and political repression.
In fact, a critique of the Israeli state, its policies, and the leaders responsible is not and should not be considered an affront to Jewish people as a collective, the Jewish religion, or Jewish heritage. Conflating the state of Israel with the Jewish people essentializes the assorted political opinions of a diverse religious group by reducing them to the set of policies espoused by the prevailing regime. The charge of anti-Semitism is made in bad faith; its real purpose is to automatically vilify and stifle any honest critiques of the state of Israel’s policies and practices.
In sum, these attacks must be firmly repelled in order to preserve the fundamental, free speech right to dissent, to protect academic freedom that enables scholars to produce new knowledge, and to promote the free exchange of ideas in fulfillment of the university’s purpose to educate.