A Letter to UCLA Dean Pat Turner
It was reported in the Journal that during a guest lecture to a UCLA anthropology class on May 14, Rabab Abdulhadi, a professor of Arab and Muslim Ethnicities at San Francisco State, referred to Zionists as white supremacists. She made this statement in front of around 100 students in the Fowler lecture hall during a mandatory lecture for the class ("UCLA Guest Lecturer Calls Zionists White Supremacists," May 24).
A Jewish student who attended the class, Shayna Lavi, told the Journal that Abdulhadi began the lecture with a discussion about Islamophobia but then launched into a rant against Israel, which Lavi said included "a claim that those who support Israel want to ethnically cleanse the Middle East and those affiliated with Israel and pro-Israel organizations are white supremacists."
As a supporter of Israel, I understand that there are those who disagree with aspects of Israel's policies or even with the concept of a Jewish national homeland. Nevertheless, when this strays into hate speech and ad hominem attacks on those who support Israel, a red line has been crossed. That your university tolerates such racism and hate speech on its campus speaks volumes about your views with regard to the rapid and scary rise of hatred against Jews and Israel over the past few years.
Abdulhadi and those like her push the envelope as far as those in power will let them, and will continue to breach the bounds of decency and respect in their campaign against those they disagree with. That's disgusting enough. But you, as the head of the venue where Abdulhadi spoke, have a duty and responsibility to ensure that they don't go as far as Abdulhadi went. There are real consequences to such hate speech, as we see on social media, and lives are put in grave danger, as we saw in Poway last month.
If you do nothing — shame on you. If you do something just to say you've done something — shame on you.
Unless you act decisively and bravely against this insidious campaign of verbal terror, you are guilty by implication. It's as simple as that.
Rabbi Pini Dunner, via email