UC Berkeley Jewish students say university protecting lecturer who promotes anti-Semitism

A coalition of Jewish and pro-Israel students at the University of California, Berkeley, are calling for swift action against a lecturer’s “promotion of hatred and intolerance.”

Ethnic Studies lecturer and Students for Justice in Palestine founder, Hatem Bazian, was blasted for anti-Semitic retweets in a letter co-signed by several groups, including the Chabad Jewish Student Group at UC Berkeley, Bears for Israel, Berkeley Hillel and Tikvah: Students for Israel.

“While we fully support academic freedom and free speech, we believe Bazian’s record is severe enough to warrant more than just condemnation,” the students said in the letter. “We also know that there is a precedent for the removal of non-tenured faculty who promote hate on social media and elsewhere. Oberlin College fired professor Joy Karega, following an investigation into anti-Semitic statements she made on social media, a University of Tampa professor was fired for suggesting that Hurricane Harvey was ‘karma’ for the state of Texas, and a John Jay College professor was suspended for tweeting about ‘dead cops.’”

(Courtesy of Tikvah: Students for Israel)

The tweets mocked Hassidic Jews, with one saying “Mom, look! I is chosen! I can now kill, rape, smuggle organs and steal the land of Palestinians ‘Yay’ #Ashke-Nazi.” Another had an image of North Korea’s leader wearing a yarmulke with the words “God chose me,” “101 Judaism we teach it,” and the message: “I just converted all of North Korea to Judaism. Donald Tlump (sic): Now my nukes are legal and I can annex South Korea and you need to start paying me 34 billion a year in welfare.”

Bazian issued an apology for retweeting the images “without giving it much thought,” noting it popped up because of “a number of pro-Israel groups” highlighted it.

“I take responsibility for my words and statements and stand by my own work relative to Palestine, BDS and opposition to Zionism and settler colonialism and those who take issue on the content of my scholarship and work are welcome to disagree and offer a defense of their point of view in the open market of ideas,” Bazian wrote.

The university promptly condemned the lecturer’s “unacceptable anti-Semitism” that “clearly crossed the line.” But the students believe that doesn’t go far enough, and that the university should cut all ties with Bazian.

Pro-Israel students at UC Berkeley demonstrate in front of Students for Justice in Palestine.

Pro-Israel students at UC Berkeley demonstrate in front of Students for Justice in Palestine. (Courtesy of Tikvah: Students for Israel)

“While I believe that the university condemning Bazian's actions is a great first step in combatting this issue, I don't think enough was done to make sure it does not happen again,” Adah Forer, co-president of Tikvah: Students for Israel, told Fox News.

In a letter to the administration, the students said Bazian has a track record of anti-Semitism, going back as far as 2002, when he insinuated Jews control UC Berkeley: “A classic anti-Semitic trope about Jewish power,” the groups wrote. He also compared Israelis with Nazis in 2014, and, in May of this year, he shared a video claiming that “Israeli soldiers killed young Palestinians for their organs.” As Chairman of American Muslims for Palestine, or AMP, the groups point out, “Bazian heads an organization whose leaders and speakers have spread racism, homophobia, and genocide denial.”

“If such vile racism was spread targeting a different group – be it black, Hispanic, or Muslim – the university administration would have already taken disciplinary action,” Forer said. “The double standard against attacks on the Jewish community is fully evident here. I am also highly concerned by what propaganda Hatem Bazian, an official lecturer at our university, spreads in the lecture hall to my peers, unchallenged and through an official university platform.”

The university said administrators have offered to meet with the Jewish student groups to listen to their concerns and make sure the college leaders “improve our campus climate for Jewish students,” said Oscar Dubón, vice chancellor for Equity & Inclusion.