California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Letter re cancelled planned talks by Richard Falk at the University of East London

CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM

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March 24, 2017

Vice-Chancellor John Joughin

University of East London

Dear Vice-Chancellor Joughin,

The California Scholars for Academic Freedom,** a group of over 250 scholars, protests in the strongest possible terms your abrogation of academic freedom by cancelling the planned talks by Professor Richard Falk on his new book, Palestine’s Horizon: Toward a Just Peace.  Your action accedes to growing threats to academic freedom at a moment when your country and ours are verging towards a situation of ignoring the basic premises of democracy.  It is precisely in this moment that universities must stand as the strongest possible bulwark of free speech, academic freedom and public debate.  The groups who have sought to achieve this suppression of free speech and curtailment of academic freedom are extremists who do not believe that open debate is a vital part of education, and that various viewpoints first have to be known before they are rejected.  Richard Falk is one of the most highly respected international scholars of human rights law, and his viewpoint is among those that ought rightly to be heard and considered by those who wish to cultivate an informed position on the Middle East.

In fact, Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and has been a Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he currently co-leads UCSB’s Orfalea Center Project on Global Climate Change, Human Security, and Democracy.   He taught international law and politics at Princeton University for 40 years.  In 2001, he served on a three person Human Rights Inquiry Commission for the Palestine Territories that was appointed by the United Nations, and previously, on the Independent International Commission on Kosovo. He serves as Chair of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Board of Directors and as honorary vice president of the American Society of International Law. Falk also acted as counsel to Ethiopia and Liberia in the Southwest Africa Case before the International Court of Justice. He received his BS from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; LLB. from Yale Law School; and JSD. from Harvard University.

We find the reasons given for the cancellation of these talks — that they were not organized according to “procedure” or that they pose concerns for “public safety” — utterly unconvincing and disingenuous.  Those who have convinced you to cancel these talks are clear about their motive—to suppress criticism of Israeli state policies. Their disingenuousness lies in equating valid criticism of state policies with anti-Semitism.

Like you, we oppose all forms of anti-Semitism as well as all forms of racism.  It would, however, be unwise to conflate the actual rise of anti-Semitism we have recently witnessed and abhorred in the UK and the US with a spurious charge of anti-Semitism leveled against those who openly criticize Israel’s illegal occupation and support non-violent means to achieve the end of that occupation. The answer to this most recent scourge of anti-Semitism is not to invoke censorship against those who are part of active and important debate on the unjust conditions under which Palestinians currently live in Gaza and the West Bank.  Censorship and the limiting of free academic exchange attempts to silence those – including many Jewish intellectuals and public figures – who seek to press the Israeli government to end its illegal occupation and comply with international law.

The baseless charge of anti-Semitism against public critics of the State of Israel for its current policies and laws affecting Palestinians is an effort to suppress viewpoints and to shift the conversation away from the substantive realities of Palestinian disenfranchisement and the clear noncompliance of Israeli policy on Palestinians with several international laws and agreements.  If you doubt this fact, then perhaps you should attend a lecture by Richard Falk in order to judge whether the evidence supports the claim.  It is most important at this moment, however, to resist the intimidation by extremists and to reverse this unwise decision, an effective act of censorship, to allow a full debate to flourish.

Please also note that your action sets a dangerous precedent, and could very well curtail other forms of speech that you would very much like to see protected by law.  We all would prefer not to hear positions with which we disagree, but we are all obligated to allow those positions to be voiced in the context of an open and considered debate.  If you stand by your decision to cancel this lecture that offers public criticisms of Israel, will you then be bound to cancel all such lectures, including lectures critical of other states, including your own?  This repressive situation is the grave danger of rejecting the principles of both academic freedom and open public debate that are critical of Israel or of any state out of compliance with international norms and laws. We urge you to affirm the principles of open and free debate that alone can insure that an educated public makes good decisions on matters of shared public concern.

We urge you to affirm these principles by re-scheduling the talks by Professor Falk.  There are certainly well-known means for ensuring the safety of Professor Falk.

We look forward to your response,

California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Contact Persons:

Judith Butler

Maxine Elliot Professor, Department of Comparative Literature

University of California, Berkeley

USA

jpbutler@berkeley.edu

David Palumbo-Liu

Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor, Department of Comparative Literature

Stanford University

Palumbo-liu@stanford.edu

USA

Lisa Rofel

Professor, Department of Anthropology

University of California, Santa Cruz

USA

LROFEL@ucsc.edu

**CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM (cs4af) is a group of scholars who defend academic freedom, the right of shared governance, and the First Amendment rights of faculty and students in the academy and beyond. We recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere. California Scholars for Academic Freedom investigates legislative and administrative infringements on freedom of speech and assembly, and it raises the consciousness of politicians, university regents and administrators, faculty, students and the public at large through open letters, press releases, petitions, statements, and articles.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scholars ask to have their names added to Professor Watchlist

California Scholars for Academic Freedom Press Release

Co-coordinators: Sondra Hale sonhale@ucla.edu  Lisa Rofel LROFEL@ucsc.edu
The newly inaugurated U.S. administration has created an atmosphere of violence, racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism. A less discussed aspect of these attacks is on academic freedom. The 2016 election has taken to new extremes the threats to academic freedom. We can see a preview of what this administration intends in their response to the recent cancellations of “talks” by professional provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who engages in public, cruel harassment of students who are critical of his extremist views, from the lectern through trigger cameras that project students’ images without their consent. He then proceeds to taunt them and incite actions against them on the basis of their physical appearance, race, sexuality, and gender. Instead of condemning this kind of incitement, President Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding from UC Berkeley after Yiannopoulos’ “talk” was cancelled at UC Berkeley and other UC campuses.

We can also see indications of things to come in the lack of condemnation – hence tacit permission – of attacks by the Horowitz so-called Freedom Center on certain  University of California  campuses for considering establishing themselves as a set of sanctuary campuses.  The recent Executive Order in the form of a travel ban on people coming from seven Muslim majority countries (still in the courts) has ensnared students, faculty and visiting scholars who have had their academic lives and careers put into jeopardy as a result of the proposed ban.  The absence of international scholars from large parts of the Middle East would severely affect the quality and reach of our educational institutions.  Similarly, the anti-immigration bashing and the threat to build a wall with Mexico puts the important DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in jeopardy, directly threatening our undocumented college students.  The politically motivated attacks on research scientists working on climate change and fetal tissue research are further indications of a political climate intent on thoroughly trampling over academic freedom.

Furthermore, with regard to academic freedom and free speech, a legislator in the state of Arizona tried to prohibit “state institutions from offering any class or activity that promotes “division, resentment or social justice toward a race, gender, religion, political affiliation, social class or other class of people.” In other words, discussion of social justice should not be part of the educational curriculum.   While this bill died before it reached a vote, Arizona already bans the teaching of ethnic studies in K-12 education, a law that is being challenged in court.  We can expect to see more of these attempts to limit academic freedom in the coming four years. These initiatives are important for us to know and attempt to counteract. These are very direct interventions in our campus lives, potentially putting a chill on our educational atmosphere and affecting academic freedom.

A recently formed “Professor Watchlist” purports to alert students about professors they claim “advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.”  This watchlist echoes Horowitz’s project, Campus Watch. The latter lists both faculty and students, threatening the latter with slanderous public information for use by prospective employers and the former with threats of violence. The Professor Watchlist names numerous professors from California institutions of higher learning. In response to the Professor Watchlist, faculty from throughout California, at public and private universities, have followed the lead of faculty at the University of Notre Dame, in sending the Professor Watchlist our names to be added to their list.  We refuse to be intimidated by such harassment tactics.

Below is a letter we are sending to Professor Watchlist:

We, the undersigned faculty in various universities and colleges in California, write to request that you place our names, all of them, on Professor Watchlist.

We make this request because we note that you currently list on your site several of our California colleagues, such as Professors Bettina Aptheker, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Melina Abdullah, Hatem Bazian and some 20 others, whose work is distinguished by its commitment to reasoned, fact-based civil discourse examining questions of tolerance, equality, and justice. We further note that nearly all faculty colleagues at other institutions listed on your site, the philosophers, historians, theologians, ethicists, feminists, rhetoricians, and others, have similarly devoted their professional lives to the unyielding pursuit of truth, to the critical examination of assumptions that underlie social and political policy, and to honoring this country’s commitments to the premise that all people are created equal and deserving of respect.

This is the sort of company we wish to keep.

We surmise that the purpose of your list is to shame and silence faculty who espouse ideas you reject. But your list has had a different effect upon us. We are coming forward to stand with the professors you have called “dangerous,” reaffirming our values and recommitting ourselves to the work of teaching students to think clearly, independently, and fearlessly.

So please add our names, the undersigned faculty from California institutions, many of whom belong to California Scholars for Academic Freedom, to the Professor Watchlist. We wish to be counted among those you are watching.

Most sincerely,

Ece Algan

Director, Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies

California State University at San Bernardino

Richard P. Appelbaum

Distinguished Research Professor

Sociology and Global Studies

University of California, Santa Barbara

Paola Bacchetta

Department of Gender and Women’s Studies

University of California, Berkeley

Carole H. Browner

Distinguished Research Professor

Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences,

Anthropology, and Gender Studies

University of California, Los Angeles

Edmund Burke, III

Professor Department of History

University of California, Santa Cruz

Lara Deeb

Anthropology

Scripps College

Julia Elyachar,

Anthropology and Economics

University of California, Irvine

Richard Falk,

Fellow, Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies

University of California, Santa Barbara

Former Special Rapporteur, UN Human Rights Council

Aranye Fradenburg

Professor, Department of English

University of California, Santa Barbara

Margaret Ferguson,

Distinguished Professor of English,

University of California at Davis

Mayanthi L. Fernando

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Department of Anthropology

University of California, Santa Cruz

Gary Fields

Associate Professor, Department of Communications

UC San Diego

Prof. Claudio Fogu

Associate Professor of Italian Studies,

Department of French and Italian

University of California Santa Barbara

Manzar Foroohar

History Professor

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Nancy Gallagher

Professor, History Department

University of California, Santa Barbara

Jess Ghannam

Department of Psychiatry, and

Global Health Sciences

University of California, San Francisco

School of Medicine

Bishnupriya Ghosh

Department of English

University of California, Santa Barbara

Huma Ahmed-Ghosh, Professor

Department of Women’s Studies

Advisory Board: Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies

Center for Asia and Pacific Studies

Institute for Security and Conflict Resolution

San Diego State University

Deborah Gould

Associate Professor of Sociology

UCSC

Larry Gross

Professor

School of Communication

Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

University of Southern California

Sondra Hale

Anthropology and Gender Studies

University of California, Los Angeles

Gail Hershatter

Distinguished Professor of History

History Department

University of California, Santa Cruz

Ivan Huber, PhD

Professor Emeritus of Biology

Fairleigh Dickinson University

Madison, NJ

Member, California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Suad Joseph

Distinguished Research Professor

Anthropology Department

University of California, Davis

Zayn Kassam

John Knox McLean Professor of Religious Studies
Pomona College

Katherine King

Professor, Comparative Literature

University of California, Los Angeles

David Klein

Professor of Mathematics

California State University Northridge

Dennis Kortheuer

Dept. of History, emeritus

Cal State Long Beach

Mark LeVine

History Department

University of California, Irvine

Esther Lezra

Associate Professor Global Studies

Feminist Studies and Comparative Literature Affiliate

University of California, Santa Barbara

David Lloyd

Distinguished Professor of English

Department of English

University of California, Riverside

Pardis Mahdavi, PhD

Dean of Women

Associate Professor and Chair of Anthropology

Pomona College

Amina Mama

Professor, Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies

One Shields Ave, University of California,

Davis, CA 95616

Andrew Mathews

Anthropology Department

University of California, Santa Cruz

Flagg Miller

Professor of Religious Studies

The University of California, Davis

Minoo Moallem

Professor, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies

University of California, Berkeley

Helene Moglen,

Professor, Literature

University of California Santa Cruz

Kathleen Moore,

Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies

UC Santa Barbara

Patricia Morton

Editor, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

Associate Professor, Art History Department

University of California, Riverside

David Palumbo-Liu

Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor,Comparative Literature

Stanford University

David Naguib Pellow

Dehlsen Chair and Professor of Environmental Studies

University of California, Santa Barbara

Noam Perry

Department of Justice Studies

Institution: San Jose State University

Ismail Poonawala

Professor of Arabic & Islamic Studies

UCLA

James Quesada,

Professor & Chair

Department of Anthropology

San Francisco State University

Nasrin Rahimieh

Howard Baskerville Professor in Humanities

Chair, Department of Comparative Literature

University of California, Irvine

Rush Rehm

Professor, Theater and Performance Studies, and Classics

Artistic Director, Stanford Repertory Theater (SRT)

Stanford University

Craig Reinarman

Research Professor and Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Legal Studies

University of California, Santa Cruz

Dwight Reynolds, Professor

Dept of Religious Studies

University of California, Santa Barbara

William I. Robinson

Professor of Sociology and

Global and International Studies

University of California-Santa Barbara

Robyn Magalit Rodriguez,

Associate Professor, Asian American Studies,

UC Davis

Lisa Rofel

Department of Anthropology

University of California, Santa Cruz

Parama Roy

Professor of English

University of California, Davis

Danilyn Rutherford

Anthropology Department

University of California, Santa Cruz

Jeffrey Sacks

Associate Professor

Department of Comparative Literature

University of California, Riverside

Sang Hea Kil, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Justice Studies

San José State University

Vida Samiian

Professor of Linguistics

California State University, Fresno

Bhaskar Sarkar

Film and Media Studies

University of California, Santa Barbara

Susan Slyomovics

Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Near Eastern Languages & Cultures

University of California, Los Angeles

Elizabeth Stephens,

Art Department,

UC, Santa Cruz

Judith Stevenson, Emerita

Phd Anthropology

Peace and Social Justice Program

Department of Human Development

California State University, Long Beach

Baki Tezcan,

Associate Professor of History,

University of California, Davis

Howard Winant

Distinguished Professor of Sociology

University of California, Santa Barbara

Stephen Zunes

Professor of Politics

University of San Francisco

 

February 21, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Letter demanding the Suspension of Presidential Executive Order on Immigrants

CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM

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We, California Scholars for Academic Freedom,** join thousands of colleagues across the nation to express our outrage against the Executive Order signed by Donald Trump establishing a 90-day suspension of visas and other immigration benefits to nationals of seven countries with a majority Muslim population. These countries are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/27/politics/donald-trump-refugees-executive-order/index.html. We demand the immediate suspension of this executive order because of its unconstitutionality and the serious impact it has on our academic institutions and communities.  This Executive Order is discriminatory as it targets a large group of immigrants on the basis of their country of origin and religious affiliation. This results in implementing racial and religious profiling in utter violation of the fundamental values and principles of the U.S. Constitution and of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

As members of private and public universities in California, we recognize that the implementation of this Executive Order is an attack on the academic freedom of our students and faculty colleagues whose right to leave or enter the country to pursue their studies and research will be curtailed. This measure not only violates our academic commitment to diversity, it severely impacts our faculty’s ability to do research, network, and attend conferences. It further forces our institutions to discriminate against student and faculty applicants from these countries.

The implementation of this Executive Order has already created undue hardship, disrupting the lives of many immigrants and their families in our communities. The claim that this measure is intended to secure our borders from potential “terrorists” is false and hypocritical. In addition, we need to point out that the executive order is, in fact, not intended to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists,” as Donald Trump claims, since the foreign-born individuals who have committed violent acts against the US since September 11, 2001, have come from countries that are not on the list of banned countries. Trump’s Executive Order is an ideological/ political/-economic/discriminatory act that lacks the humanitarian spirit of our Constitution, and will accomplish the opposite of protecting our country.

This Executive Order is a blow against ALL citizens’ rights to be protected from the arbitrary and illegal actions of the State, because an attack against one is an attack against all of us.

We join our academic colleagues across the U.S. (and the world) to demand that this order be revoked immediately.

 

Contact Persons on Behalf of CS4AF:

Sondra Hale, Research Professor and Professor Emerita, University of California, Los Angeles. Sonhale@ucla.edu

Ahlam Muhtaseb, Professor of Communication Studies, CSU San Bernardino. amuhtase@csusb.edu

Lisa Rofel, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz. lrofel@ucsd.edu

Vida Samiian, Professor of Linguistics, California State University Fresno. vidas@csufresno.edu

**CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM (cs4af) is a group of over 200 scholars who defend academic freedom, the right of shared governance, and the First Amendment rights of faculty and students in the academy and beyond. We recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere. California Scholars for Academic Freedom investigates legislative and administrative infringements on freedom of speech and assembly, and it raises the consciousness of politicians, university regents and administrators, faculty, students and the public at large through open letters, press releases, petitions, statements, and articles.

February 4, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment