(May 22, 2019 / JNS) A guest lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles, last week labeled Zionists as white supremacists, reported Jewish Journal on Tuesday.
A Jewish student in the class, Shayna Lavi, recalled to the Journal that San Francisco State University Arab and Muslim ethnicities’ professor Rabab Abdulhadi, told the some 100 students in the mandatory anthropology lecture on May 14 that U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) “was attacked by AIPAC and all these pro-Israel organization because [Omar is] Muslim,” and that America and Israel have “shared values” of “killing people, colonialism and white supremacy.”
Lavi told Abdulhadi that she was “personally offended” that the professor “categorized pro-Israel students, Zionists and Jewish students as white supremacists.”
“Thank you. That’s your opinion but you’re wrong,” responded Abdulhadi. “I stand with Jews who do not support Israel and I hope that Jews will disalign themselves with white supremacy.”
Park dismissed a crying Lavi and instructed her to come to her office hours following the lecture without giving a formal apology.
Viktorya Saroyan, another student, told the Journal that she was furious that Abdulhadi caused Lavi to cry. In response, Saroyan sent an email to Vice Chancellor for Equity, Inclusion and Law Jerry Kang about what happened. It was forwarded to the Discrimination Prevention Office, to which Lavi also forwarded a complaint on May 16.
“I am someone who is not a part of the Jewish community; regardless I wish to speak up,” Saroyan wrote in the May 14 email. “This was hate speech, there is no other way of classifying it. Watching an educator belittle a student to tears with such blatant ignorance leaves me to question the values UCLA wishes to uphold.”
“[Abdulhadi] can say whatever she wants, but she shouldn’t be in the classroom,” Lavi told the Journal. “The keynote speaker for [Students for Justice in Palestine] shouldn’t be a mandatory speaker for all students.”
‘An offensive point of view’
Ricardo Vazquez, associate director of media relations at UCLA, told the Journal that “several students” expressed concern that Abdulhadi’s lesson “went beyond legitimate criticism of the State of Israel [and] into anti-Semitism. The University is committed to academic freedom, as well as building an inclusive learning environment without discrimination and harassment. Senior leadership are aware of the concerns and are working together to learn more and to find a satisfying resolution. In accordance with university procedure, allegations of discrimination or harassment have been conveyed to the Discrimination Prevention Office.”
The Anti-Defamation League, StandWithUs and the Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned the incident to the Journal.
“Students should be exposed to a wide range of ideas, but if the guest lecturer equated Zionism with white supremacist ideology, as is alleged, that is not just an offensive point of view,” said ADL Los Angeles regional director Amanda Susskind. “It is indefensible, ignorant and revisionist.”
SWC associate dean and director of global social action agenda Rabbi Abraham Cooper said the lesson was “another example of propaganda thinly disguised as academic/intellectual discourse,” and that Abdulhadi “had no interest in engaging a student who dared to respectfully challenge her rabid anti-Semitism.”
“This professor is notorious for spreading hate about Israel and the Jewish people, and for whitewashing anti-Semitic rhetoric as merely ‘criticism of Israel’ or ‘anti-Zionism,’ ” said SWU executive director of research and strategy Max Samarov. “We are proud of the students who had the courage to speak out and support their efforts to educate the class about anti-Semitism.”