A Jewish student at U.C. Berkeley has posted a letter on the Web claiming her Arabic instructor praised the anti-Semitic forgery "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," as a valid historical document.
She also filed several complaints with U.C. officials. Following an investigation, they rejected the charges.
In an account first posted last week on the pro-Israel DAFKA.org and well-traveled since, 22-year-old Susanna Klein claimed U.C. Berkeley graduate student Abbas Kadhim proclaimed on Aug. 6 that "Protocols" was written by "Zionist Jews" and explains the state of the world today.
Kadhim, however, claimed it was Klein who steered classroom conversation toward "Protocols," which he told her most Iraqis believe to be true. Six of the eight students in the Arabic 15 class signed university documents supporting Kadhim's version of the day's events.
An official statement from the university this week concluded that, following a probe, "there appears to be no basis" to Klein's charge. Professor Daniel Boyarin, the dean of the Near Eastern studies department, took it further than that.
"This complaint has been investigated by the deans and they have concluded that it is a lie," Boyarin wrote in an e-mail to the Bulletin.
"...The department has no need to go anywhere from here, except perhaps to consider disciplinary action with respect to a slanderer."
In a lengthy interview with the Bulletin, Kadhim said he could not have possibly espoused a personal view on "Protocols" -- a czarist police-created forgery purporting to be the transcript of a cabal of Jews trying to take over the world. Why? He doesn't have one.
Perhaps the "Protocols" was written by Jews and perhaps it was written by Russian secret police, said Kadhim, adding that he hasn't done the research to know for sure.
"This is not my expertise, this is not my Ph.D. I am not a scholar of everything. I know some people say it is a forgery and some people say it is not, but it not my job or duty to know the details," said Kadhim, 37, a graduate student in Arabic and Islamic studies and a former Iraqi resistance fighter in the curtailed 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein.
"I never in my life thought I would be asked about the 'Protocols.' It's unfair to ask me to have a precise opinion on it. I always thought it was enough to know both sides and be open to change. It is not responsible to endorse one view or the other without the full information."
Kadhim said he has attempted to locate both the "Protocols" and scholarly works purporting it to be a true document from U.C. libraries, but they are always missing or lost.
"I know it's a sensitive subject, but you only confirm others' suspicions when you lock away the books that don't agree with you," he said.
"My name is destroyed in certain circles."
In an online dialogue with UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh at www.volokh.com Kadhim accused Klein of orchestrating a "campaign of hate and intimidation against me. I have nothing to hide, and my record is spotless. Ms. Klein and her supporters are radical lunatics. Their dogs will not hunt!"
Kadhim declined to submit a photograph of himself to the Bulletin or have his picture taken by a Bulletin photographer.
Two students contacted by the Bulletin independently confirmed much of Kadhim's version of the incident. Student Brett Woods, however, noted Kadhim admitted he is an anti-Zionist while interacting with Klein, and when discussing how Iraqis perceive the "Protocols," said, "This is what I was taught in Iraq."
Woods and student Brid Beeler said Kadhim never expressed his personal views of the "Protocols" or said anything anti-Semitic.
While Beeler said she knew the "Protocols" had been written "by czarists in Russia," Woods hadn't heard of the document prior to the incident. Following his subsequent research, he is unsure who wrote "Protocols": "czarist police or a few fanatical Jews."
Despite the university's conclusions and the testimony of her fellow students, Klein stands by her story.
Her classmates "want to believe [Kadhim]," she said. "It's not nice to think something outrageously bigoted might have happened in their class, it's not something they want to think about."
Klein registered a perfect score on the last midterm and is described by Kadhim and her classmates as a top student. She initially said she would not return to the class prior to Thursday's final, but did on Monday to ensure "there will be no new material introduced, and I'll get the 'A' I deserve."
Klein was cited for suspicion of battery after spitting on a pro-Palestinian demonstrator at a rally in April. The charges were quickly dropped, and Klein said she had been physically menaced by pro-Palestinians prior to the incident.
"I think this university has a problem with anti-Semitism it is unwilling to confront," she said.
"I also think the students should be ashamed of themselves for not speaking up when they did find out what the 'Protocols' were."