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The field of Middle East studies is notorious for producing apologias for radical Islam, particularly where anti-Israel and, at times, anti-Semitic sentiment is concerned.
These same tendencies are also increasingly common in an unexpected sector of university life: Jewish studies. An open letter dated March 3, 2011, and signed by 30 University of California Jewish studies faculty members, is a case in point.
Posted at the "Stand with the Eleven" website, along with a similar statement by 100 UC Irvine faculty members, the letter states:
As faculty affiliated with Jewish Studies at the University of California, we are deeply distressed by the decision of the District Attorney in Orange County, California, to file criminal charges against Muslim students who disrupted Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's speech on the UC Irvine campus last year. While we disagree with the students' decision to disrupt the speech, we do not believe such peaceful protest should give rise to criminal liability. The individual students and the Muslim Student Union were disciplined for this conduct by the University, including suspending the MSU from functioning as a student organization for a quarter. This is sufficient punishment. There is no need for further punitive measures, let alone criminal prosecution and criminal sanctions.
While it might seem counter-intuitive for Jewish studies academics to support such an endeavor, a closer look demonstrates that many of the signatories are harsh critics of Israel.