An "anti-Zionism" course at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) was suspended on Tuesday, following intense backlash over its biased nature, The Algemeiner has learned.
The course in question — "Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis" — was decried by a campus watchdog group as "a classic example of antisemitic anti-Zionism," which contributes to greater hostility toward Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus.
On Tuesday, some two weeks after The Algemeiner exposed the contents of the slated course, UC Berkeley Assistant Vice Chancellor Dan Mogulof, from the Office of Communications and Public Affairs, informed The Algemeiner:
It has been determined that the facilitator for the course in question did not comply with policies and procedures that govern the normal academic review and approval of proposed courses for the Decal program.
As a result, the proposed course did not receive a sufficient degree of scrutiny to ensure that the syllabus met Berkeley's academic standards before it was opened for enrollment to students. For that reason, approval for the course has been suspended pending completion of the mandated review and approval process.
It should also be noted that the Executive Dean of the College of Letters and Science is very concerned about the offering of any course, even a student-run course, which espouses a single political viewpoint and/or appears to offer a forum for political organizing rather than an opportunity for the kind of open academic inquiry that Berkeley is known for.
The decision to cancel the course coincided with the publication of an open letter to UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirk, signed by a coalition of 43 Jewish, civil rights and education advocacy organizations — led by campus watchdog the AMCHA Initiative — expressing concern over the school's vetting process.
"A review of the syllabus of 'Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis' reveals that the course's objectives, reading materials and guest speakers are politically motivated, meet our government's criteria for antisemitism, and are intended to indoctrinate students to hate the Jewish state and take action to eliminate it," the letter stated.
The class was originally offered as a "DeCal" course, part of a student-run program that falls under the jurisdiction of UC Berkeley's Academic Senate. Aside from being assigned texts by anti-Zionist and antisemitic authors, students were going to be required to attend at least one anti-Israel event during the semester.
The faculty sponsor of the course, Dr. Hatem Bazian, is a co-founder of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and a major supporter of the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). Bazian is a former fundraising speaker for the anti-Israel organization KindHearts, which was shut down by the US government in 2006 for its alleged ties to Hamas.
The course facilitator, Paul Hadweh, is a Palestinian student instructor from Bethlehem and is an active member of UC Berkeley's SJP chapter, which, among other things, calls for an end to the "Israeli system of apartheid and discrimination" and "Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem."
In November 2015, Hadweh helped organize an event featuring anti-Zionist poet Remi Kanazi, a supporter of USACBI. In a 2012 Facebook post, Kanazi wrote, "Dear Zionists: You have never 'defended yourselves.' You came in, stole land that wasn't yours & maintained a racist state through massacres and brute force."
In his promotion of the course on Facebook, Hadweh wrote that he would be taking students on an "in-depth" exploration of "the history and present of Zionist settler colonialism in Palestine." The post was accompanied by an image featuring infamous anti-Israel maps whose creators have been accused of distorting history.