Last week Dr. Hatem Bazian*, a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, became subject to intense criticism and calls for his dismissal after it came to light that months earlier he had retweeted an anti-Semitic meme. The incident follows years of false accusations of anti-Semitism and outlandish claims.
Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, a professor at the nearby San Francisco State University, explained in emails this week to her colleagues and the UC Berkeley Chancellor that Bazian is being victimized by a campaign.
I am bringing to your attention a very urgent issue. As you can see from my email to UC Berkeley Chancellor below, Dr. Hatem Bazian has become the target of a zealous right wing pro-Israel campaign that seeks to get him fired from his position at Berkeley for a mistake he made and for which he took responsibility and has publicly apologized. These groups are powerful allies of the Trump administration and the UC Board of Trustees. They seek to intimidate, bully and silence any and all advocacy for justice in/for Palestine by pressure, strong arming and bribing public universities as they have done on our own campus.
Many of you know Dr. Hatem Bazian. As Dean [Kenneth] Monteiro who was his MA thesis advisor would tell you, Hatem is not only a graduate of SFSU who played a very central role in student activism and organizing and holding the university accountable. Dr. Bazian has been a generous colleague who crossed the Bay and accepted invitations from SFSU faculty, staff and students consistently. Most recently he participated in one of our panels during the Constitution Day conference.
Hatem is being attacked because the Zionist establishment would like to silence all of us and use bullying, smear campaign and outright incitement to violence to take us out once and for all because more and more people in the US, including young Jewish students are refusing to let Israel and the Israel lobby industry s speak in their names but insist on siding with justice in/for Palestine.
I hope that you will take the time to write to Chancellor Carol Christ and ask her to defend her colleague and faculty member.
Thank you in advance for doing the right thing,
Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, PhD
Dear Chancellor Carol Christ:
I am writing with extreme alarm and urgency. Dr. Hatem Bazian has come under attack by right-wing pro-Israel groups, such as Campus Watch and Stand With Us, who have seized on a mistake he made and for which he already apologized to escalate their campaign to silence Palestinian scholarship and advocacy for justice in/for Palestine on US campuses in a reincarnation of McCarthyist tactics.
I have known Dr. Bazian for several years and have had the pleasure of working closely with him in the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at the Center for Race and Gender and as a co-founder of the Islamophobia Studies Journal of which he is the founding editor. I have also worked closely with Dr. Bazian at Berkeley, SFSU, SF Bay Area communities and in the US academy. His generosity with his time is only paralleled by his high moral fiber, integrity, uncompromising compass and strong commitment in words and deeds against all forms of racism and racial discrimination, including Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Blackness, erasure of indigeneity, anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian discrimination.
I urge you to strong reject this bullying and smear campaign. I call on you to publicly defend Dr. Bazian against this witch hunt.
Dr. Bazian has inadvertently retweeted an offensive meme earlier this year. He has acknowledged the mistake—having not realized the full content of the image as it appeared on his phone—and immediately deleted the post once it was brought to his attention.
Dr. Bazian has also issued an apology on his social media accounts for unintentionally sharing the distasteful image, believing it contrary to the values and principles he upholds, and to his longstanding efforts to combat racism in all its forms—including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia:
“A retweet was brought to my attention today and I went over my account from the past and do sincerely apologize for re-sending it, the image is offensive and does not represent my views or the anti-racist work that I do including fighting anti-Semitism in partnership with progressive Jewish groups that express solidarity with Palestine’s rights to self-determination and have a strong track record on countering Islamophobia. At the time, I saw the image of the North Korean Kim Jong Un and tweeted it without giving it much thought as I was teaching a course in Spain and France. I did not realize or read the full text in detail until it started re-appearing on my twitter feed again from a number of pro-Israel groups that target Palestinians. As a matter of policy, I don’t respond, as I focus on my work and ignore the attacks. As a Palestinian, my issue is with Zionism, a settler colonial movement and Israel’s policies directed at Palestinians under occupation and those that live as second or maybe fourth class citizens in the state and not with Judaism or Jews, as diverse communities. The image in the tweet and the framing relative to Judaism and conversion was wrong and offensive and not something that reflects my position, be it in the past or the present. 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. In the future, I will make sure to include that retweets don’t represent an agreement or support for the ideas that are shared and only my own postings reflect my positions on issues. Dr. Hatem Bazian, Berkeley, Nov. 21st, 2017”
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, PhD
*Mondoweiss has published Dr. Hatem Bazian.