My column in the Arab News, anti-Arab hate at Universities
Many American universities are focused on alleged rising hate and anti-Semitism on their campuses but little is being done to address the bigger problem of rising anti-Arab hate on college campuses. The claims of rising anti-Jewish hate on campuses is being driven by biased pro-Israel politics designed to undermine the legitimate claims of Palestinian and Arab activists
By Ray Hanania
Anti-Arab bias on campuses at American universities and colleges has been an unaddressed and consistent problem since the early 1970s when universities gave special privileges and support to pro-Israel students and organizations while marginalizing and excluding pro-Arab students and groups.
In recent years, as the Arab student population has increased along with the increase in the Arab population in America, more and more Arab students are challenging the lies and propaganda often assimilated into college curricula that denies Palestinian rights, brands Palestinians as violent terrorists and ignore the atrocities and civil rights violations by Israel’s government against Christians and Muslims.
To promote the lie that anti-Israeli activism is also anti-Jewish and a part of an alleged growing wave of anti-Semitism in America, Israeli activists and groups like AIPAC have produced not only sophisticated PR campaigns but also a documentary.
A documentary called “Hates Spaces” seeks to marginalize legitimate Palestinian and Arab criticism of Israeli government atrocities and the illegal and racist settler movement to build an immunity to among Americans to increasing reports of Israeli racism.
I address this isn my column in the Arab News Newspaper, published on March 29, 2017 titled “Pro-Israel students complain about harassment on US campuses.” Click here to read the column.
Pro-Israel activists have tried to challenge the column, first arguing that I had to dig back to 1975 to find an example of anti-Arab racism at an American university, a lie which twists details I provided about how anti-Arab racism existed at the University of Illinois at Chicago (Circle Campus.) Circle was one of the most racist and anti-Arab universities in American and the university administration often embraced policies to undermine the student activities of pro-Arab students and groups while redirecting college funding to bolster pro-Israel events and activism.
The discrepancy between how the University supported Israel student and ignored, marginalized and even harassed Arab students was an experience I saw firsthand as president of the Arab Student Organization in 1975 and 1976.
That harassment has continued and expanded. But as pro-Palestinian students have stepped up their activism to expose the atrocities committed by Israel, a foreign country, pro-Israel groups have used their deep ties at universities to impose legal bans and censorship of anyone who dares to criticize Israel, again, a foreign country.
So far, 19 American states have passed racist anti-BDS laws which deny University and college funding and support statewide to any group that supports a boycott of Israel, a foreign country. It is an amazing violation of the civil rights of American students who happen to be Arab and Palestinian that has not yet been challenged in court. These anti-BDS laws should be challenged in court and the Universities should be forced to pay millions in damages to Arab and Palestinian American students to compensate for the damage these racist laws have caused.
This is a topic I have written much about.
Other pro-Israel supporters have asserted that no Arabs have been punished or fired by universities, but in fact dozens have over the years.
- One of the most recent was the firing of Steven Salaita from a job he was promised by the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana. Salaita had left his previous job to begin the new job at the University of Illinois when the board voted to revoke the job offer after it was disclosed that he had published Tweets critical of Israel (a foreign country). Salaita won a lawsuit against the racist decision of the University of Illinois’ board.
- Another Arab professor whose position was violated because of allegations that he was critical of Israel is Iymen Chehade who in 2014 had his class cancelled after a complaint was filed that he was anti-Israeli. Columbia College, which has a history of anti-Arab racism practices, eventually reinstated the class in the face of protest, but the experience left the pro-Arab Chehade scarred by the experience.
- In 2008, award winning radio journalist Suriya H. Smiley, a Palestinian American professor, was told she would no longer be able to teach at Columbia College after a student falsely asserted that she had made comments critical of Israel. The pro-Israel courts in Illinois (which passed the anti-BDS laws against Arabs who criticize Israel) refused to support her claims.
These were just three examples of instances where Arab professors and instructors were targeted by their universities on claims that they were anti-Israeli (and also thereby anti-Jewish). Oftentimes, pro-Israel activists interchange accusations of being anti-Israel, a political position, with being anti-Jewish (or anti-Semitic) a racist accusation.
The truth is that this has happened throughout the country. Racism against Arab professors also involves marginalization, exclusion and bigotry that prevents their hiring, restricts what they may or may not teach, or punishes them in order to force them to abandon principled instruction on the truth of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
These cases are rarely publicized by the pro-Israel mainstream American news media and it is disgusting.