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UCLA’s anthropology grad student association supports Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi and Dr. Kyeyoung Park over accusations of anti-Semitism

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Editor’s Note: The following is a statement from the Anthropology Graduate Student Association at the University of California, Los Angeles in support of Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi who has come under attack for a recent lecture at UCLA. Mondoweiss occasionally publishes press releases and statements from organizations in an effort to draw attention to overlooked issues.

On May 14, 2019, Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, director and senior scholar of Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora Studies at San Francisco State University, was invited to give a guest lecture to the undergraduate course, “Race and Racism,” taught by Dr. Kyeyoung Park, a professor of anthropology and Asian American studies. Dr. Abdulhadi is an esteemed scholar in the fields of Palestine, Islamophobia, feminist and diaspora studies. In her lecture, entitled “Islamophobia and the Attacks against Palestine Organizing and Scholarship,” Dr. Abdulhadi discussed the historical formation of Islamophobia, Zionism as a settler colonial and white supremacist project, the expulsion of Palestinians from their ancestral lands, and the ongoing violence of settler colonialism experienced by Palestinians within the borders of Israel, in the occupied territories, and in the global Palestinian diaspora.

During the question and answer period, a student called Dr. Abdulhadi an anti-Semite and said she was offended that Dr. Abdulhadi discussed Islamophobia in Israel and equated Zionism with white supremacy. Dr. Abdulhadi listened to the student’s comment before responding. Another student repeatedly disrupted and spoke over Dr. Abdulhadi, calling her an anti-Semite and a racist and demanding that she get out of the classroom. The interaction between students and Dr. Abdulhadi continued until the end of class at 3:15 p.m. As students left the classroom, the two students who disrupted the lecture once again accosted Dr. Abdulhadi, calling her “ignorant” and an “abomination.” One student subsequently sent a complaint about the lecture to a senior administrator. The Daily Bruin reported on the complaint and the class in its May 16 edition, entitling the article, “Anthropology guest lecturer accused by students of encouraging anti-Semitism.” This article was filled with omissions and misrepresentations, and has subsequently been picked up by far-right and Zionist individuals and organizations to smear Dr. Abdulhadi, Dr. Park, and the UCLA Department of Anthropology.

The Anthropology Graduate Students Association wholeheartedly supports both Dr. Park and Dr. Abdulhadi, both on grounds of academic freedom and the substance of Dr. Abdulhadi’s lecture.

Dr. Abdulhadi’s lecture, and Dr. Park’s invitation of Dr. Abdulhadi to deliver the lecture within her class, are clearly covered within the University of California’s “General University Policy Regarding Academic Appointees.” The policy’s statement on academic freedom enumerates the freedom of teaching as one of the essential principles of academic freedom and calls for “teaching and scholarship [to] be assessed by reference to the professional standards that sustain the University’s pursuit and achievement of knowledge.” Dr. Abdulhadi’s lecture is well-supported by the forms of empirical evidence employed in anthropological research and allied disciplines, and her research and pedagogy fall within the realm of justice-oriented knowledge production.

As graduate students in the Department of Anthropology who lead discussion sections with undergraduate students, we are committed to creating inclusive and justice-centered academic settings. This includes ensuring that the loudest and most dominant perspectives in our society do not silence empirically verifiable evidence of oppression. Anti-Zionism is not anti-semitism, and, going forward, we hope UCLA students and the Daily Bruin will employ a more intellectually rigorous perspective before weaponizing false allegations of anti-semitism to erode academic freedoms.

Graduate students in our department have faced multiple hostile and even threatening incidents with students unwilling to confront structural white supremacy and settler colonialism in this academic year alone. It is no coincidence that those who face the brunt of this are faculty and graduate students of color. We condemn unequivocally these attempts to bully graduate students into silence in the face of white supremacy and avoidance of topics that make up critical areas of our research and teaching.

Anthropological research often reveals power structures that make oppression appear natural. As graduate students, it is our pedagogical duty to foster academic environments where oppressive and dominant logics are discussed, explored, and challenged in a way that is inclusive to the multiplicity of perspectives encompassed in any classroom. According to these principles, it is crucial that we teach Palestine.

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9 Responses

  1. JWalters
    JWalters on May 29, 2019, 11:13 pm

    My thanks to the Anthropology Graduate Student Association at the University of California, Los Angeles for standing up for the FACTS and the TRUTH, and for resisting the evil forces of deceit and war. Zionism is a revival of an ancient Jewish barbarism, trying to re-create an ancient Torah story, and trying to reverse the last two millennia of progress toward a civilized world. We should not be deceived by its cloak of fake “holiness”. Under that cloak are cynical war profiteers.

  2. Richard Baldwin Cook
    Richard Baldwin Cook on May 30, 2019, 2:48 pm

    CROCODILE TEARS – Like shouted accusations of anti-Semitism or talking over the voice of the invited speaker, tears are a rehearsed ploy, designed to distract.

    A year or two ago, at a private school in the Bronx, ‘outraged’ parents gathered to demand the dismissal of two teaches who were leading courses about Palestine; one parent accused a targeted teacher of making her daughter cry in class. The two teachers were removed from the faculty; one retired, the other was fired.

    Now at UCLA, another crocodile tears stunt. Notice that the UCLA newspaper student newspaper article focused on reaction – not on substantive statements from the invited speaker.

    A few years ago Miko Peled (if memory serves) was speaking to a full auditorium and people lined up at microphones to ask questions. When it was her turn at the mike, a woman began to cry; Peled said, stop with the crocodile tears! She stopped.

    • JWalters
      JWalters on May 30, 2019, 6:53 pm

      Exactly! For those who haven’t seen it, the great undercover documentary on the Israel lobby catches AIPAC operatives on camera discussing this and other deceptive tactics.
      “The Lobby – USA – ALL episodes 1+2+3+4”

    • oldgeezer
      oldgeezer on May 30, 2019, 11:04 pm

      ” When it was her turn at the mike, a woman began to cry; Peled said, stop with the crocodile tears! She stopped.”

      Hmmm it was either Finklestein or he has done the same at one of his talks.

      • oldgeezer
        oldgeezer on June 1, 2019, 11:31 am

        This is one clip where Finklestein let’s go with little hold back.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak on June 1, 2019, 1:00 pm

        Thanks, oldgeezer!

  3. pgtl10
    pgtl10 on June 1, 2019, 10:02 am

    Sounds like two students walked into class with the intent of disrupting the class. One attempted to conflate Judaism and Zionism so she can accuse someone of antisemitism. The student crying has been described as white tears. The idea that crying is used to shut down a debate.

  4. Jackdaw
    Jackdaw on June 4, 2019, 9:16 am

    Yet, when BDS Brownshirts crash a book lecture by an Israeli and call him, ‘babykiller’, there’s not a peep from Mondoweiss.

    https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5513412,00.html

    Why is that?
    Any takers?

  5. Ossinev
    Ossinev on June 4, 2019, 10:54 am

    @Jackanory
    “BDS Brownshirts” – yup all in paramilitary uniform and armed to the teeth.

    “Shalicar, an official of the Ministry of Intelligence”. Yup straight off the ZioGoebbels production line.

    Keep them coming – you are a hoot !

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