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UC Berkeley suspends course following claims of anti-Semitism

Wheeler Hall, University of California, Berkeley.jpg
Wheeler Hall, University of California, Berkeley

A major US academic institution suspended a course earlier this week following pressure from pro-Israeli groups claiming that the course content was "anti-Semitic" and that this was allegedly the university's "latest effort to erase Jewish history from Israel."

The University of California – Berkeley (UCB) had originally offered a course called "Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis" convened by Dr Hatem Bazian, but this was later pulled after pro-Israel groups launched a campaign to protest the content of the course.

Before the course was withdrawn, a pro-Israeli author, Abraham Miller, wrote an article earlier this month for a US website called Observer claiming that Bazian was "a street orator whose disgust with America is such that he called for an American intifada."

Miller went on to mockingly state that UCB's pro-Palestinian students "tend to be dismissive of intellectual nonsense", implying that any position advocating the Palestinian point of view was academically and intellectually untenable.

Following the publication of this article, the AMCHA Initiative (AMCHA is the Hebrew word meaning "Your People"), a pro-Israeli group that espouses Zionism on American campuses, sent a letter to UCB's administration signed by 43 Jewish organisations, including Israeli advocacy group StandWithUs, denouncing the course as an "unbridled misuse of the classroom by politically-motivated instructors."

In response, the AMCHA Initiative received an email two days ago from a representative of UCB's chancellor Nicholas Dirks, confirming that the course will be shelved "pending completion of the mandated review and approval process".

The reason given by UCB was that Bazian "did not comply with the policies and procedures that govern the normal academic review and approval of proposed courses", adding that the course "did not receive a sufficient degree of scrutiny to ensure that the syllabus met Berkeley's academic standards before it was opened for enrolment to students."

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