UC Berkeley reinstated Monday a class which it had previously suspended after 43 Jewish and civil rights groups complained that it was anti-Semitic and violated University policies against political indoctrination.
We first reported on this story last week. The course is titled "Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis" and is taught by an undergraduate as part of the University's DeCal program. Its aim is to view Israel through a settler-colonial framework, which is to say as similar to other states whose populations moved from one territory to another
According to social science dean Carla Hesse, the course was not suspended because the University agreed with the 43 Jewish and civil rights groups that the course was political indoctrination but because it had not been properly reviewed before being offered. In a statement, Hesse said that The Student Facilitator, the Chair and the Executive Committee of the Department of Ethnic Studies had now reviewed the course and approved it, so she was therefore prepared to reinstate it.
"I did not request or require any revisions of the content of the course," Hesse said. "Let me be clear: Dean's review, but do not approve the academic content of DeCal courses."
The course's instructor, Paul Hadweh, told the Los Angeles Times that no substantive changes had been made to the course since its suspension. "It was not the revisions that allowed the course to get approved. It was the pressure from people across the globe who were appalled that this public institution would so severely infringe upon the principles of academic freedom," Hadweh said.
Hadweh was careful to frame the controversy not in terms of how Israel and Palestine were being discussed (whether sources were balanced, for instance) but instead as an objection from "outside" to the subject matter entirely. "It's inspiring to see how truly faculty at the university and around the world really cherish the principle of academic freedom and did not allow the administration to get away with allowing outside pressure to dictate what can and can't be spoken about on campus," he said.
The course meets for the second time Tuesday night. You can read the revised syllabus here.