Israel lobby descends on UC-Santa Barbara

Original Email at Issue p. 7
One slide of the photo essay Prof. Robinson sent to his students

The Anti-Defamation League and the Israel advocacy group “Stand With Us” are leading an aggressive, direct campaign to pressure UCSB administrators and faculty to investigate and discipline Professor of Sociology William I. Robinson for having introduced materials critical of Israel in a course on global affairs. The UCSB academic senate opened an official inquiry alleging “academic misconduct” and “anti-semitism”, following complaints by two students in response to an email Robinson sent out to his class during Israel’s war on Gaza. The email consisted of an article published in the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle by Judith Stone, who had recently returned from the occupied territories (the editor responsible was fired the next day), a photo essay which juxtaposed Nazi atrocities against Jews in WWII and Israeli atrocities against Palestinians in Gaza and the following commentary:

If Martin Luther King, Jr. Were alive on this day of January 19, 2009, there is no doubt that he would be condemning the Israeli aggression against Gaza along with u.s. military and political support for Israeli war crimes, or that he would be standing shoulder to shoulder with the Palestinians. I am forwarding some horrific, parallel images of Nazi atrocities against the Jews and Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians. Perhaps the most frightening are not those providing a graphic depiction of the carnage but that which shows Israeli children writing “with love” on a bomb that will tear apart Palestinian children.

Gaza is Israel’s Warsaw – a vast concentration camp that confined and blockaded Palestinians, subjecting them to the slow death of malnutrition, disease and despair, nearly two years before their subjection to the quick death of Israeli bombs. We are witness to a slow-motion process of genocide – defined by Websters dictionary as “the systematic killing of, or a program of action intended to destroy, a whole national or ethnic group” – a process whose objective is not so much to physically eliminate each and every Palestinian than to eliminate the Palestinians as a people in any meaningful sense of the notion of people-hood.

The Israeli army is the fifth most potent military machine in the world and one that is backed by a propaganda machine that rivals and may well surpass that of the U.S., a machine that dares to make the ludicrous and obnoxious claim that opposition to the policies and practices of the Israeli state is anti-Semitism. It should be no surprise that a state founded on the negation of a people was one of the principal backers of the apartheid south African state not to mention of the Latin American military dictatorships until those regimes collapsed under mass protest, and today arms, trains, and advises military and paramilitary forces in Colombia, one of the world’s worst human rights violators.

The campaign has sparked outrage from hundreds of academics and students. You can find all the background information on this blog and Robinson’s views here.

Please consider signing the online petition.

William I. Robinson is one the leading theorists of global capitalism and the author of a number of books, including the excellent Promoting Polyarchy. His latest work is Latin America and Global Capitalism (2008).

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