Students at the University of California at Berkeley have started a petition calling on the school to remove a lecturer who has been accused of antisemitism as well as having a blatant anti-Israel bias.
The organization Tikvah: Students for Israel, which calls itself the Zionist voice at UC Berkeley, wrote that it "will not stand by idly as our homeland and our people are brought under continuous vile attacks. We will not tolerate indoctrination at our university, and we will shed light on the truth amid the antisemitic and Israel-hating bigotry."
The senior lecturer, Hatem Bazian, hosted an event in which he invited Arab MK Haneen Zoabi to give a lecture titled "Israel: A Democracy or a Colonial Project?" The event, which was hosted by the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project, an initiative of the school's Center for Race and Gender, took place on April 18, Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars and Victims of Terrorism.
"On this day of mourning, MK Zoabi and Hatem Bazian smeared the Jewish state and its defense forces with countless lies, and once again showed that UC Berkeley provides a platform for antisemitism under the guise of academic professionalism," Tikvah said.
"Hatem Bazian must be held accountable for inviting and hosting an antisemitic and terrorist-sympathizing speaker to this campus, and the administration must take action to ensure that such a radical figure does not have an academic platform to spew her propaganda."
On his Twitter page, Bazian can be seen continuously posting tweets that have an anti-Israel rhetoric, with some of his posts bordering on antisemitism.
He continuously re-tweets messages from Boycott Divestment and Sanctions activists as well as from organizations affiliated to the BDS movement.
Earlier this month he shared a story on his Twitter page titled: "The 'Jewish nation' is the central myth of Zionism.
It needs to be dismantled." He also claimed during a lecture on April 8 that "over 70% of organized Islamophobia funding comes from pro-Zionist, pro-Israel sources and finders."
In May 2017 he shared a video claiming that "Israeli soldiers killed young Palestinians for their organs," while in 2016 he tweeted, "Saying Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state is not antisemitic."
In 2014, Bazian also shared an image equating Israelis with Nazis.
Tikvah said that such comments from the lecturer in his classes can be traced back as far back as 2002, in which he insinuated that Jews control UC Berkeley.
"While we fully support freedom of speech, we stand against hateful indoctrination and explicit lies being sold to an audience at an academically sponsored event," Tikvah said. "We call on the chancellor to finally acknowledge the deep-rooted level and acceptance of antisemitism at UC Berkeley, and its never- ending promotion by the same faculty member. We cannot help but see the double standard against our community; when other groups are under attack, the university releases public statements condemning the slander and offering resources and support, yet when it is our community, the university remains silent. We will not back down and will continue to vocally oppose the indoctrination happening under the guise of academia, today and every day."
By Tuesday afternoon nearly 600 people had signed the petition, which was started late on Monday. Many of the signers echoed the call for Bazian to be removed and for the university to take a stand against antisemitism.
"Universities need to be places where discussion and debate are possible, where evidence and facts are given more weight than emotionally manipulative stories," wrote one supporter.
"Antisemitism has no place in an academic institution. Jewish students are as much entitled to a safe space as anyone else. The conduct of the teacher and the college is deplorable," said another.