It is no secret that many of today’s liberal arts colleges and universities have experienced a marked decline in educational standards and have adopted a disingenuous approach that replaces academic excellence with political advocacy and indoctrination. At the University of Missouri for example, George P. Smith, a biology teacher devoid of any degrees in Mid-East Studies or related fields will teach a course entitled “Perspectives on Zionism.” Smith’s only qualification appears to be his extreme hostility toward Israel. His outrageous positions include justifying Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and calling for an end to the Jewish State.
At UC Riverside, an undergraduate student affiliated with the anti-Semitic college group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), is slated to teach a course called, “Palestine & Israel: Settler-Colonialism and Apartheid.” The course syllabus includes a discussion on “understanding the occupation of Palestine 1948-present.” Of course, Israel only took possession of Judea & Samaria (the West Bank) in 1967, meaning that the lecturer has already predetermined that all of Israel, not just Judea & Samaria, is deemed, “occupied territory,” thus invalidating the legitimacy of the Jewish State.
This malevolent position sits well with UC Riverside officials who informed the Washington Free Beacon that the course was “reviewed by a faculty committee… and that committee decided that it did meet UC standards.” Apparently, those standards include anti-Semitic indoctrination and brainwashing.
If that isn’t bad enough, it appears that political discourse in these institutions of higher learning is a one-way street where narratives in support of Israel’s right to defend itself against its genocidal enemies are labeled as “racist” and “dehumanizing.” This fact is perhaps best personified by a recent disturbing incident at Connecticut College involving a Jewish philosophy professor with an exemplary academic record and an SJP-affiliated student-provocateur and fabricator.
It began with last summer’s war in Gaza. Incensed by Hamas’s use of human shields as well as its indiscriminate rocket fire targeting Israeli cities, Professor Andrew Pessin posted a comment on his Facebook page where he metaphorically compared Hamas to a rabid pit bull. While the post did not specifically refer to Hamas, it was clear from the context of comments, both before and after, that Professor Pessin was referring to Hamas and not to the Arab residents of Gaza who, ironically, suffer the most from Hamas’s tyrannical rule. What followed was a chapter borrowed straight from Orwell’s 1984, plunging Professor Pessin into what can only be described as a Kafkaesque nightmare.
Six months later, in February, Pessin was contacted via email by one of his former students, 19-year-old Lamiya Khandaker; more on this miscreant later. Khandaker challenged Professor Pessin on his post. Pessin responded by clarifying that his post was directed solely at Hamas and not any national or ethnic group, apologized for the misunderstanding and informed Khandaker that he would remove the post.
What Professor Pessin did not know and could not have known was that Khandaker was affiliated with the rabidly anti-Semitic SJP, a group committed to the destruction of the Jewish State and whose mantra is “from the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free,” an overt reference to the Land of Israel in its entirety. In fact, Khandaker began her career into anti-Israelism by starting an SJP chapter in her high school.
Khandaker, who incidentally serves as the college’s Chair of Diversity and Equity and exhibits outrage over real or imagined slights, seems to have little empathy with those victimized by anti-Semitism as amply underscored by one of her own vile posts on Facebook.
During Operation Protective Edge, Turkey’s anti-Semitic and increasingly unbalanced leader, Recep Erdogan, among other things, accused Israel of committing acts of genocide and compared Israel’s actions to those of Hitler. Erdogan’s outburst prompted Jack Rosen of the American Jewish Congress to refer to Erdogan as “arguably the most virulent anti-Israel leader in the world” who spews “dangerous rhetoric for political gain” and incites “the Turkish population to violence against the Jewish people.”
Khandaker on the other hand displayed irritation and disgust with those who challenged and labeled the statement as anti-Semitic. In her Facebook hate post she noted, “Everything is anti-Semitic to people wtf. It’s pissing me off.” Khandaker’s Facebook page has since been deactivated and her comment removed. Apparently, Khandaker, in the ironic position of being Chair of Diversity and Equity, recognized that her posts could likely not pass scrutiny and the stones she hurled at Professor Pessin would likely shatter her own house.
Despite Professor Pessin’s clarification, removal of the post and apology for the misunderstanding, Khandaker embarked on her own little Jihad against Professor Pessin. In what appears to have been a coordinated strike, Khandaker, along with three cohorts, Michael Fratt, Katilyn Garbe and Zachary Balomenos – Balomenos has since printed a retraction and an apology to Professor Pessin – wrote letters to the college newspaper. Khandaker accused Professor Pessin of engaging in “hate speech” and “institutional racism.” Fratt and Garbe, who co-authored a letter, likely exposed themselves to a meritorious defamation lawsuit by outrageously claiming that Pessin, “directly condoned the extermination of a people.” Mob mentality followed and Pessin, who never introduced his political views into the classroom and maintained an untarnished and impeccable record as an academic, was tarred and feathered by faculty and administration officials alike.
It is Ironic that these officials would choose to take the side of a student who is affiliated with an organization that calls for Israel’s destruction and whose own questionable Facebook posts are arguably anti-Semitic, over an esteemed professor whose clarification is extremely plausible especially when viewed in the context of his other posts, where he mentions Hamas exclusively and makes absolutely no references to “Palestinians.”
It is also ironic that Khandaker, who takes offense at Pessin’s metaphor, could care less about the fact that her precious SJP supports an organization whose leaders continuously refer to the Jewish people as the descendants of apes and pigs or variants of that rancid theme. Khandaker’s record demonstrates that she is not only virulently anti-Israel but a liar and hypocrite as well.
In her letter to the College Voice, Khandaker claims that Professor Pessin “insinuated Palestinians (Not Hamas) [sic] as ‘rabid pit-bulls’.” That was her first lie. His post mentions neither Hamas nor the Palestinians but when placed in the context of Professor Pessin’s other comments, it becomes quite clear that he was referring to Hamas. Her second lie, this time by omission, appears in a follow-up letter to the College Voice where she doubles down and attempts to justify her actions against Professor Pessin and lashes out at her critics, particularly Professor David Bernstein. Bernstein, whose article appeared in the Washington Post, penned a scathing review of Khandaker’s reprehensible actions as well as those of her cohorts at Connecticut College.
Bernstein noted that that while Khandaker was a student in Pessin’s class, she wore an Islamic style head covering. The point Bernstein was trying to convey was that while it was obvious that Khandaker was Muslim, Pessin exhibited no bias or prejudice toward her. Yet that did not stop her from calling Pessin a “racist” based on a misreading of his Facebook post. Khandaker disingenuously omits Bernstein’s analysis and criticizes him for “simplify[ing] [her] to a Bangladeshi who wears an Islamic head covering.” Khandaker then refers to Professor Bernstein as a “bigoted journalist at the Washington Post.” Apparently, according to Khandaker, anyone disagreeing with her odious views is “simplified” to being a “bigot.”
In the meantime, Connecticut College, rather than backing an accomplished professor, who even according to his greatest detractors never exhibited any untoward behavior in the classroom and provided a more than plausible explanation and clarification of an 8-month-old Facebook post, has decided to adopt the nefarious talking points of the anti-Semitic SJP. As noted by Professor Bernstein, Connecticut College scheduled an event featuring virulently anti-Israel films and speakers. Among them is Fida Qishta, the former Gaza coordinator for the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-terrorist organization whose mission statement proclaims, “We recognize the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via legitimate armed struggle.”
Based on its response to what can only be described as an SJP inspired lynch mob, it appears that Connecticut College has taken sides and has decided to align itself with those who wish to end the Jewish State. Shame on Connecticut College for adopting morally repugnant positions, stifling free speech, engaging in thought-police tactics and defending the indefensible.
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