A University of California, Berkeley professor and Palestinian activist, Hatem Bazian, has been embroiled in controversy since retweeting posts equating Israel to North Korea and Nazis. While Bazian has apologized for the tweets as a careless mistake, Jewish students and some 15 professors have petitioned for his dismissal.
This incident is one of many blatant anti-Semitic incidents in Bazian's history. Though a relative unknown, even in academic circles, under the radar Bazian has been crucial to the dissemination of anti-Zionist thought for over two decades, first as a graduate student and now as a professor.
The sad reality is that little is likely to happen after Bazian's latest tweet. Two weeks have passed since the campaign for his dismissal began and it looks like the story has already slipped through the cracks.
Bazian will probably continue at Berkeley, reputation untarnished.
One of Bazian's tweets portrayed an Orthodox Jew cast against the words "Mom, LOOK! I IS CHOSEN! I CAN NOW KILL, RAPE, SMUGGLE ORGANS & STEAL THE LAND OF PALESTINIANS YAY #ASHKE-NAZI." It was — and is — appalling.
However, Bazian's explicit and implicit history of Jew hatred is even more worrying. It expresses the total acceptance of anti-Semitism by academia and the means by which anti-Zionism disguised as anti-Semitism is sold to trusting students through lies and innuendo.
As a graduate student in 1992, Bazian accused San Francisco State University's campus newspaper of being a haven for Jewish spies.
He has also encouraged fellow protestors to "Take a look at the type of names on the buildings around campus (UC Berkeley) — Haas, Zellerbach — and decide who controls this university (in 2002)."
Sermonizing in 1999, he suggested that massacring Jews was a necessity for his faith, by quoting: "In the Hadith, the Day of Judgment will never happen until you fight the Jews. They are on the west side of the river, which is the Jordan River, and you're on the east side until the trees and stones will say, 'oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him!'"
Aside from spreading Jewish conspiracy theories and Jew hatred masked as theology, Bazian is a champion of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, falsely claiming that Israel is a colonial apartheid state (Israel is a refugee state), while he directly campaigns for an intifada against Israel in the Middle East and the United States. While intifada is a vague term meaning something to the effect of "uprising," two geopolitical intifadas have accounted for the deaths of over hundreds innocent Israeli citizens and for thousands of injuries.
Let's take a look at a few absurd statements Bazian has made throughout the years. The first two are alternative histories that don't contain even a kernel of truth and the third is a call for terrorism.
"Israel provoked the Six-Day War in 1967, and it was not fighting for survival" — Hatem Bazian, Twitter, June 3, 2017
Reality: Egypt blocked the Straits of Tiran, international water and Israel's main trade route, where Israel imported 90% of their oil, while under attack by Palestinian guerilla armies in Syria and Jordan. Israel was clearly fighting for its survival.
"Historical evidence does not support Zionist claims re the Western Wall." — Hatem Bazian, Twitter, December 20, 2016
Reality: King Herod built the Western Wall in 20 B.C.E. to expand the Second Temple.
"How come we don't have an intifada in this country (The United States)? ... and it's about time that we have an intifada in this country that change[s] fundamentally the political dynamics in here. And we know...they're gonna say it's some Palestinian being too radical, well you haven't seen radicalism yet!" — Hatem Bazian, a rally in San Francisco, 2004.
Reality: We don't have an intifada in the United States because it's an act of terrorism if not outright war directed at a minority group.
The above beliefs and history make one beg the question: How is a blatantly hateful anti-Semite a professor at one of America's most prestigious public universities? Also of concern is how a professor at a publicly-funded university is able to present alternate fake history as fact. The reason is the direct result of professors like Bazian propagating the idea that Israel is a colonial power.
Speaking to like-minded people, he outlines the strategy clearly by preaching a link between what is occurring today in Palestine and the struggle against colonialism and oppression. He is a propagandist posing as an advocate for oppressed people, who feels the ends always justify the means.
Bazian gets away with spreading lies by selling the narrative Muslims are a greatly oppressed people whose acts of terrorism are divorced from religious doctrine. The means by which he is able to legitimize people spreading horrific anti-Semitic doctrine is by labeling all critique of his religion as racism with the word Islamophobia. Islamophobia is a subject he just so happens to teach courses on. Thus, there is a climate where we see people in the media like Somalian Muslim Refugee turned Dutch lawmaker, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, speaking out against the horrors of Islam labeled as bigots. If someone criticizes any aspect of Islam they are not only "culturally insensitive," they are "Islamophobic," a word that is now interchangeable with racist. If you are accused of being a racist in America your life is often destroyed.
Anti-Semitism has always existed. It flares up at certain times throughout history. Lately, cloaked as anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism has caught like a forest fire in California. Israel and the Jewish people can no longer kowtow to those who want them dead. When people with power, like Bazian, and as I wrote recently, many others are using dirty tactics to claim Israel has no right to exist, the stakes are too high.
Jews around the world need to unite in their shared history and defend Israel in spite of the differences in opinions that divide them. When the Jewish people and their supporters are united against a common foe, the Jewish people can redeem themselves and strengthen. However, when Jews stand back idly and fight against their own interests they seem to always strengthen their enemies and compromise their own ability to survive and thrive.
Jesse Bogner is a screenwriter and a journalist. His memoir and social critique, "The Egotist," has been translated into four languages.