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California academics condemn detention of Birzeit professor


Editor’s Note: The following is an open letter from California Scholars for Academic Freedom. Mondoweiss occasionally publishes press releases and statements from organizations in an effort to draw attention to overlooked issues.

September 13, 2019

To Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Justic Ayalet Shaked, and Minister of Higher Education Rafi Peretz:

We, the California Scholars for Academic Freedom, a group of over 200 academics working in higher education in California, write to condemn in the strongest terms the brutal invasion of the home of Professor Widad Barghouti and her subsequent detention without cause on September 1, 2019.  Professor Barghouti, who teaches communications and media at Birzeit University, has been put under administrative detention subject to interrogations without cause and without recourse to due process.

Administrative detention, which can be imposed without charges and be indefinitely and arbitrarily extended, is a form of legal violence imposed by the Israeli State on Palestinian society and, in this instance, on a respected educator as well as members of her family. Palestinian faculty and students alike have a right to education, a right that is systematically undermined by harassment and administrative detention.

We call for the immediate release of Professor Widad Barghouti. We call for an end to the unjust practices of harassment and administrative detention that are aimed at denying Palestinians their right to education. Educators and intellectuals should be free to express their views and pursue their profession without obstruction or harassment. We call for an end to this continued suppression of Palestinian society.

California Scholars for Academic Freedom
Contact Persons
Professor Judith Butler,
Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature,
Department of Comparative Literature
University of California, Berkeley USA

Professor Emeritus Lisa Rofel,
Department of Anthropology
University of California, Santa Cruz USA
Co-coordinator, California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Professor Claudio Fogu
Associate Professor, Department of French and Italian
University of California, Santa Barbara USA

Professor Vida Samiian
Professor and Dean Emerita
California State University, Fresno USA

California Scholars for Academic Freedom

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.

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3 Responses

  1. gamal on September 14, 2019, 8:07 am

    very creditable I am sure however Judith “I in no way support Hamas” Butler might do worse than listen to Samar Hassan, who is famous you have all seen her picture…like the Vietnamese napalm girl..

    apparently she received an apology from one of the perps

    “He asked the documentarians to please tell Samar if they could find her that he is sorry.
    She did not accept the apology.

    “Everybody knows my story and saw my picture,” she tells the filmmakers in between the pauses as a translator relays her words leav- ing ample time for them to spread out and fill the space of the room.

    “But it’s not going to help me with anything.” She remembers that night. It’s never gone from her thoughts. “I hear them screaming in my head and the sound of shooting.” “What would sorry do?” she asks. “They’re gone. Is sorry going to bring them back? No, it won’t. That’s it. It’s done.”…

    “it’s one of the last things Samar says in the documentary about the men—Bush and McCain’s men, our men—who killed her family for nothing.

    What would she say to them if they were to tell her they were sorry?

    “I will never forgive them. I will just leave it to God. God will pun- ish them,” she says, her voice rising in anger.

    “If they were in front of me, I would want to drink their blood,” she says.

    “Even then I wouldn’t be satisfied.”

    How refreshing to hear from an Arab woman.

  2. Rob Roy on September 14, 2019, 10:02 pm

    This is just another little horror from the Israelis. They are without any sense of fairness in their dealings with Palestinians. Their goal is to get every last Palestinian out of Palestine, dead or alive; thus this sort of thing…,making people finally give up and say, that’s enough…and go. Despicable.

  3. JWalters on September 15, 2019, 12:37 am

    My thanks to these scholars for speaking out so eloquently. The anti-Zionist movement today is akin to the anti-slavery movement of the 1800’s. It is an effort to advance the moral evolution of humanity. The Zionist movement is an effort to push humanity backward 20 centuries, to a time of rampant ethnic supremacy and slavery. Like slavery, and for the same reasons, it needs to be eradicated.

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