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When the California Faculty Association (CFA) adopted a resolution in 2009 condemning Israel for its military incursion into Gaza, it reinforced the fear that academic unions would be the next front in an ongoing propaganda offensive against the Jewish State. Amidst the ensuing controversy, one of the key players in the resolution’s formation—Manzar Foroohar, an Iranian immigrant and history professor specializing in the modern Middle East and Latin America at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo—came to the fore. However, the extent of her involvement was never publicly acknowledged. In fact, Foroohar authored and championed the resolution, which was presented by the CFA Peace & Justice Committee (Committee), unanimously adopted by the CFA Board of Directors on February 7, 2009, and passed by the CFA General Assembly in Sacramento on April 4-5 that same year.
Blandly titled, “CFA Call for a Halt to Violence Against All Civilians in Palestine and Israel,” the resolution was, in fact, blatantly anti-Israel. According to University of California, Los Angeles, professor emeritus Leila Beckwith writing at American Thinker in January, 2010:
The resolution states seven propositions that form the basis for the actions recommended. The propositions include affirming a moral equivalence between Israel defending its citizens from missile attacks and Hamas firing missiles against Israeli civilians, a misstatement of the conditions in Gaza, an omission of the U.N. Security Council’s condemnation of acts of terrorism, and a false charge against the U.S. of not seeking a just peace agreement.
Why would an academic union that acts as an exclusive bargaining representative within CSU and is devoted to improving working conditions for its members pass a resolution regarding international affairs? It turns out CFA president and California State University, Los Angeles, history professor Lillian Taiz—according to interviews with CFA members, and as the list of Committee resolutions makes clear—appointed the members of a statewide Committee in 2008 for this very purpose. With the exception of Foroohar, none of the unelected committee members have any expertise in Middle East studies, which might explain why their names were not listed on the resolution, nor was it prominently displayed on the CFA website in 2009. But during a phone interview, Stanley Oden, a professor in the department of government at Sacramento State University and a current member of the Committee, acknowledged that Foroohar was behind the 2009 resolution. Additionally, even though the names of Committee members no longer appear at the CFA website, a screen capture from 2008 demonstrates that both Foroohar and Oden were on the committee not long before the resolution was passed.
The resolution was slipped quietly in front of CFA members—for whom monthly dues are mandatory— for endorsement; afterward, several of them, when contacted by this author, said they felt duped. Decrying “violence against civilians—whether in Palestine or Israel” in the “interest of peace and greater humanity in the region,” the wording of the resolution led CFA members to believe that by signing it they would simply be supporting innocent victims. They were also unaware of the level of anti-Israel activism engaged in by Foroohar and others on the Committee.
A cursory review of Foroohar’s academic work at Cal Poly reveals that she donates a good deal of her time both inside and outside the classroom to demonizing Israel, particularly by promoting boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). Indeed, Foroohar, along with a number of Middle East studies academics teaching in California, is on the organizing committee for the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, a group that works internationally to promote BDS.
The bibliographies and hand-outs (click here, here, and here for examples) for Foroohar’s Middle East history courses reveal a biased professor trying to convince her students to blame Israel for the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict and to reject Zionism. Student comments at PolyRatings.com demonstrate as much, with one of them flatly stating that, “This professor has an agenda. Her classes are nothing but propaganda to support her cause.” Fittingly, she supports her “research” with pseudo-scholarship that reiterates standard anti-Israel propaganda, including selections from Stephen Walt and John Mearshimer’s notoriously shoddy book The Israel Lobby.
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