California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Letter to California DOE on proposed Ethnic Studies Curriculum for 2020 and Inclusion of Arab Americans

The California Scholars for Academic Freedom,• a group of over 200 academics working in Higher Education in California, are writing to express our appreciation of and support for the inclusion of the Arab and Arab American experiences in the new ethnic studies curriculum being proposed for the state of California. There are now 3.5 million Arab-Americans in the United States while California has the largest population of any state with 33% of Arab-Americans living here. In these times when Arab and Muslim Americans are vilified by some of our political leaders and media it is especially important to teach students the truths about Arab American experiences. We applaud the inclusion of the “Arab American Course Outline” on pages 252-259 in the “Sample Course Models” document. We also applaud the inclusion of these other sections in the document: “Arab-American Immigration and Labor” on pages 262-264, the inclusion of three narratives by Arab Americans in the section “Immigration Narratives” on pages 265-268, the ”Activity: Arab-American Settlement” on page 269 and the section on “Hip-hop as Resistance” on pages 273-276, which discusses the role of Hip-hop music and culture in the Arab American experience. Ethnic Studies is an important part of the education of California’s students and we support fully the inclusion of these elements in the new curriculum. 

• CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM (cs4af) defends 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.

https:/cascholars4academicfreedom.wordpress.com

Dennis Kortheuer Ph.D.

Emeritus, Dept of History

Cal State University, Long Beach

dennis.kortheuer@csulb.edu

Sang Hea Kil, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

“Justice” Studies Department 

San José State University

Phone: (415) 390-652

Email: sang.kil@sjsu.edu

Professor Emeritus Lisa Rofel, 

Department of Anthropology, 

University of California, Santa Cruz,

 LROFEL@ucsc.edu

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August 19, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Letter to CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White Re. new attacks on Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi at San Francisco State University

July 23rd, 2019

Dr. Timothy P. White

Chancellor

California State University

Dear Chancellor White,

The California Scholars for Academic Freedom, a group of over 200 academics working in higher education in California, are writing to express our deep concern over the steady barrage of attacks being made against Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi’s academic freedom of speech. Academic freedom includes the freedom of professors to conduct and disseminate scholarly research, to design courses and teach students in the areas of their expertise, and to enjoy First Amendment protections for extramural speech. (The latter is a right enjoyed by everyone within the jurisdiction of the U.S. constitution, but is the third leg of the principles of academic freedom because professors should not be professionally penalized for non-academic speech that they engage in beyond the academy.) The most recent of these attacks, by the AMCHA Initiative, has taken the form of a letter addressed to you, dated this past July 11th, accusing Dr. Abdulhadi of anti-Semitic speech posted on her Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora’s Program (AMED) Facebook page that bears the logo of the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University, where this program is located.

We strongly and categorically refute AMCHA’s faulty logic and misleading narrative that Dr. Abdulhadi has done  anything wrong or inappropriate in her Facebook postings.

The posting to which AMCHA refers consists of a photo of  the banner Queers Against Israeli Apartheid carried during the Queer Liberation March on June 30th in NYC, an event that Dr. Abdulhadi helped to co-organize. Her participation in this  march, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, reflects Dr. Abdulhadi’s affirmation of her scholar-activist commitment to the indivisibility of justice and the need to consistently connect justice in/for Palestine with all forms of injustice, including sexual and gendered injustice as well what many in the queer community see as the injustice of the Israeli Occupation of the Palestinian people. The banner to which AMCHA objects, which reads “Zionism = Racism and Boycott, Divest, Sanction,” is both consistent with this commitment to the ideal of indivisible justice, and fully protected by the First Amendment and the principle of Academic Freedom.

AMCHA is calling on CA State Attorney to charge Dr. Abdulhadi with a misdemeanor under the California Education Code. CS4AF regards AMCHA’s attempt to criminalize Dr. Abdulhadi’s exercise of her First Amendment right as a potentially grave threat to academic freedom, and urge you to condemn it as such.  It is the obligation of all who treasure the intellectual well-being of CSU students and faculty, regardless of political affiliation, sexual orientation, racial or ethnic identity, or immigration status, to reject  such discourse and activities as chilling reflections of the kind of racist demagoguery that has been fueled by Trump and his ilk.  Please focus on the fact that AMCHA works to impose a revived version of McCarthyism on CSU campuses.

We urge you to publicly rebuke such efforts.

Sincerely,

Sang Hea Kil, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

“Justice” Studies Department

San José State University

Sang.Kil@sjsu.edu

Dennis Kortheuer

CSULB, History, emeritus

Dennis.Kortheuer@csulb.edu

Nancy Gallager

Professor Emerita

UCSB

gallagher@ucsb.edu

8054051807

David Klein

Professor of Mathematics

California State University Northridge

818 677-7792

david.klein@csun.edu

Ivan Huber, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Biology

Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, NJ

ivan@randomtech.com

310.649.2291.x2

Professor Emeritus Lisa Rofel

Department of Anthropology

University of California, Santa Cruz

LROFEL@ucsc.edu

Phone (831)459-3615

Cc: California State University Trustees

California State University General Counsel Andrew Jones

San Francisco State University Outgoing President Leslie Wong

San Francisco State University Incoming President Lynn Mahoney

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra

Senator Connie M. Leyva, Chair California Standing Committee on Education

Assembly Member Jose Medina, Chair California Assembly Higher Education Committee, Senator Ben Allen, Chair Jewish Legislative Caucus

July 29, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Letter to President Napolitano of the UC System and Chancellor White of the CSU concerning the proposed anti-bias training Expressing Concern that the ADL May Be Chosen to run this training

  CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM

image.jpgimage-2.jpg

October 1, 2018

President Janet Napolitano

Office of the President

University of California

president@ucop.edu

Chancellor Tim White

Office of the Chancellor

California State University

twhite@calstate.edu

Dear UC President Napolitano and CSU Chancellor White,

The California Scholars for Academic Freedom, a group of over 200 members, ** write with grave concern about the future decisions about how to allocate the $1.2 million dollars that the California state legislature included in their budget for anti-bias training at UC and CSU.  This decision should be public and transparent. Given that UC and CSU are public universities, we, who are members of these institutions, should be given the opportunity to take part in this decision-making process by responding to a public Request for Proposals (RFP).  

We are especially concerned that any part of these funds might go to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). As demonstrated during the recent Starbucks controversy, ADL is unqualified for this role because it has placed its commitment to “Stand Up For Israel” above its original mission to fight anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. It has thereby lost the trust of communities of color and social justice activists.

 

ADL is itself biased against advocates for Palestinian rights, and has a history of inflaming conflict by targeting Palestinians, Muslims and social justice activists.  The debate over Israel-Palestine, like other great moral issues of our time, has been a source of contention on campuses. It engages many different student populations, including Palestinians and other Arab people, Jewish people of various viewpoints, Muslims and communities of color who identify their struggles with that of the Palestinian people.

ADL is a staunch partisan in the fray, falsely casting those who are critical of Israel’s policies as anti-Semitic and supportive of terrorism. In this pursuit, ADL has over the years carried out mass surveillance of American Arabs and Muslims and many social justice groups including the ACLU, Asian Law Caucus, NAACP, New Jewish Agenda and the United Farm Workers.  It lent support to high-profile anti-Muslim initiatives following 9/11, including opposition to the construction of Islamic cultural centers and mosques, and the smear campaign against the principal of the country’s first English-Arabic public school.

An organization such as the ADL that champions exchanges between our local law enforcement and a country where soldiers and police are known for their grievous abuses against a population that is literally under occupation should not be in charge of training California universities on “how to best respond to hate and intergroup conflict on campus.”

The proposal that ADL should lead an anti-bias training on our campuses is another effort to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. The previous UC President, Mark Yudof, hired the ADL to write a report on anti-Semitism on UC campuses. The ADL conflated criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism in that report. It did not follow any of the accepted procedures for social science research, refusing to explain how it got its information and excluding the voices of Jewish, Arab, and Palestinian faculty and students who opposed this conflation and are critical of Israel. The one and only conclusion of that report was: censorship. The ADL frankly and explicitly recommended that the UC suppress criticism of Israel. This recommendation obviously goes against the very basis of a university, which is academic freedom. 

Given the severe problems we face in California at this moment concerning the status of our DACA students, the anti-immigration policies and Muslim Ban emanating from the White House, and the Islamophobia and racism against our African American, Muslim and Latino students, we have a responsibility as public educators to address these myriad problems and not allow the ADL to hijack the agenda with their spurious conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. 

We expect to hear when there will be time scheduled for you to accept public comments on this funding allocation and when you will put out a RFP. 

Sincerely,

California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Contact persons:

Professor Lisa Rofel,

Professor Emeritus and Research Professor

Department of Anthropology

University of California, Santa Cruz

LROFEL@ucsc.edu

Professor Sang Hea Kil

Associate Professor
“Justice” Studies Department
San José State University

Sang.kil@sjsu.edu

Professor Jess Ghannam

Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and

Global Health Sciences

University of California San Francisco

School of Medicine

Jess.ghannam@ucsf.edu

Dennis Kortheuer

Lecturer emeritus

California State University, Long Beach

Dennis.kortheuer@csulb.edu​​

Margaret Ferguson

Distinguished Professor 

Department of English

University of California, Davis

mwferguson@ucdavis.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.

June 19, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment