The University of California San Diego (UCSD) is the latest campus where false charges have been leveled at Israel defenders in order to advance the genocidal campaign against the Jewish State. A UCSD pro-Muslim student association, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), orchestrated what could be a potentially libelous campaign of false charges against a campus-wide elected member of the student government, Ashton Shahyad Cohen, and pro-Israeli professor, Shlomo Dubnov. What animated the campaign? Despite SJP attempts to obfuscate the issue, both men were targeted because they voted against an SJP-sponsored resolution demanding that UCSD divest itself of holdings in companies that do business with Israel. The resolution was brought before the UCSD Student Council on February 29, 2012. After seven hours of debate, it was defeated 20-13. Shortly after, both men came under attack.
First, professor Dubnov. During the meeting Dubnov, like many others, expressed his opinion against what has become the increasingly familiar issue of divestment. In this particular case, the SJP was attempting to get UCSD to sell its stock holdings in shares of GE and Northrop Grumman, because those corporations manufacture materials used by the Israeli Defense Forces. Two days after the resolution failed, Amal Dalmar, co-chair of the Student Affirmative Action Committee (SAAC), sent an email signed by six other students to the UCSD administration, claiming that as “students of color,” they were “verbally physically and emotionally attacked” during the debate. After saying they were “not going to allow such behavior to continue,” the group demanded the university release $7000 to them so they could bring a pro-divestment speaker to campus.
They then focused their wrath on the professor, whom they accused of racist rhetoric and verbally attacking pro-divestment student Noor El Annan. “University professor Shlomo Dubnov of the Music department followed a student outside of the 4th floor forum to verbally attack her and tell her that her narrative about surviving bombings in Lebanon was ‘cheap and ridiculous,'” the email read. “They ended their diatribe by calling her a disgrace.”
The UCSD Office of Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD) initiated an investigation. Fortunately for Dubnov, the debate was recorded on videotape, which can be seen here. It reveals that the accusations were a complete fabrication. The video shows that after Noor El Annan gave her speech — and left the premises — professor Dubnov remained behind for almost eight minutes, part of which included a conversation with Eyal Raz, a Medicine Department professor, at the back of the room. Furthermore, Raz signed a declaration stating that he and Dubnov continued their conversation for several more minutes outside the room and exited the building together. At no time, Raz added, did he see Dubnov harass a student.
When the OPHD investigation was completed, professor Dubnov was fully exonerated.
On to Cohen. Mr. Cohen, a Persian Jew, became the focus of an attack orchestrated in part by the same student activists, Amal Dalmar and Noor El Annan, who targeted professor Dubnov. Cohen’s “crime”? Dressing up in a traditional Arab costume–for a costume party. Cohen, whose own family includes Muslim members, reportedly bought the outfit in Dubai and wore it there when it was hot. At the costume party, Cohen was photographed (seen here) posing with three women, two of whom are Muslim. One of the Muslim women posted the photo on Facebook with the caption “three wives?” The photo was sent to El-Annan, who posted it on her own Facebook profile, claiming she was “offended and disgusted” by the photo because “something that my grandparents would have worn was funny to him.” Cohen denied the accusation, contending that it was nothing more than “an intimidation tactic because of my vote against divestment.”
Had it ended there it, might have remained a relatively insignificant story. Unfortunately for Cohen, El Annan’s baseless accusation was highlighted in a front-page column in The Guardian, a campus newspaper. The article referred to him as both “racist” and “Islamophobic.” Both El Annan and Dalmar piled on. El Annan reiterated her “disgust,” while Dalmar compared the photo to the Compton Cookout, a racially charged incident targeting blacks that initiated an investigation of UCSD by the federal government. Dalmar inadvertently revealed a certain level of hypocrisy. “If we as a student body do not react to events like this, anybody’s culture can be mocked and ridiculed,” she offered.