A principled statement by my colleagues @AmahlBishara and @kmanjapra in response to ridiculous and abhorrent attacks on Tom Abowd for simply teaching a course at Tufts titled "Colonizing Palestine" pic.twitter.com/SVWL0rDd0I— kamran rastegar (@kdrastegar) August 21, 2018
Ever since the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the Muslim majority country has long fought for basic human rights, only to be denied.
Unarmed Palestinians have been brutally murdered by Israeli Defense Forces at the Gaza border, yet more often than not, coverage of these brutal crimes portrays the two parties as equally responsible, when in reality, that is far from the truth.
Israeli settlers have long built homes on Palestinian lands, with the latest addition of another 1,000 homes.
Yet, whenever the Palestinian perspective of Israeli occupation is portrayed, the criticism is shot down as anti-Semitism, despite the fact that many scholars over the years have called Israel a “settler colonial state.”
Similarly, Tufts University in Massachusetts drew relentless ire from pro-Israeli groups after it introduced a new course, “Colonizing Palestine.”
The course looked to discuss the “illegal occupation” of Palestine at the hands of Israel.
The blowback to the course was so immense that it not only targeted the topic of study but also the teacher elected for it.
However, Tufts University stood by their decision to go ahead with the course, which they essentially termed as academic freedom.
“As we have stated previously, Tufts is committed to the free exchange of ideas and provides students with access to a broad spectrum of courses that enable them to become familiar with a variety of perspectives on important and complex issues,” Tufts spokesperson Patrick Collins told JNS, which first reported the story.
“We support all faculty members’ right to academic freedom, while understanding that support does not imply endorsement of any particular point of view that a faculty member might espouse,” he continued. “We recognize that there are a variety of viewpoints and beliefs within the Tufts’ community, and we embrace opportunities to foster improved understanding and engagement across divergent perspectives.”
Despite the statement from the university, Professor Thomas Abowd was faced vile criticism and termed an “anti-Israel advocate.”
The Tufts Friends of Israel group also accused the university of violating a statement by the Office of the President for adhering to a particular political standing.
Meanwhile, Israel has reportedly increased its attack on freedom of speech by intrusive, unnecessary questioning of journalists and any traveler attempting to enter the nation, which may have spoken against it or has “Palestinian blood.”
Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, Israel has fashioned itself as a “Jewish state,” showing little to no regard for its minorities. A new bill passed into law made sure minorities would be stripped off of rights, despite serving in Israel’s military.
Confusing just criticism of a nation with anti-Semitism does not take away from the fact that Tufts University has every right to teach different perspective over the conflict that has gone on for decades.
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