Shalom Life | May 29, 2015

Why is This Blatantly anti-Semitic Course Still Being Offered at UC Riverside?

UC Riverside remains silent on an anti-Israel course listed in their Spring academic calendar; Shalom Life investigates

By: Jonathan Dick

Published: May 27th, 2015 in News » World

Why is This Blatantly anti-Semitic Course Still Being Offered at UC Riverside?

Despite public outcry and condemnation, UC Riverside has still not struck down on an openly anti-Zionist course being offered at the university. In the name of “progress”, the indefatigable support and affinity towards the anti-Zionist movement has globally spread out and riddled its way into college and university campuses, galvanized by the incredibly popular BDS movement.

Yet, ironically, the existence of this course will mark the first time in North America that a university course has openly and unapologetically negated the State of Israel’s right to exist.

If one flipped through an academic calendar and came across this course, one would certainly not understand the extent to which it violates UC Riverside’s academic charter or defames the country of Israel. However, as Shalom Life first reported and upon further inspection and analysis, one would undeniably come to the conclusion that this anti-Zionist course is in fact a deceivingly clever cover-up for blatant anti-semitism.

The first obvious sign of malicious deception is found in the course’s name. As JNS first reported, the course is listed on the UC Riverside Spring 2015 student-initiated course calendar as “Palestinian Voices.” If one opens the syllabus, the name in fact changes to “Palestine & Israel: Settler-Colonialism and Apartheid.” Thus, the course fallaciously and initially advertises itself as an academic forum for the plight of the Palestinian cause. But, the course’s confusing name change into a decisively slanderous and anti-Zionist tone, using anti-Zionist buzzwords like “colonialism” and “apartheid”, begs the question: “What exactly are the course’s true goals and intentions?”

One of the 20 non-profit and non-partisan organizations which have called for the removal of this anti-semitic course has conducted a preliminary analysis reviewing the course's veracity. The organization, Verity Educate, specifically provides scholarly analysis of the factual accuracy and objectivity of educational material. Moreover, Verity Educate is staffed by Ph.D. level academics and writers who “utilize mainstream and authoritative sources to explain and refute any inaccuracies or biases in the analyzed material.”

In their preliminary analysis, Verity Educate came to the conclusion that “the core academic and educational values of knowledge acquisition and critical thinking have been hijacked by a particular strain of political action, and specifically by a particular politically oriented activist organization.” Moreover, their conclusion was based on the fact that the course’s syllabus and reading schedule only reflected two out of the four identified course objectives.

The four course objectives are as follows: 1. Develop a historical understanding of the conflict in the Middle East.2. Develop an understand [sic] of differing perspectives of the people of the Middle East conflict. 3. Develop an understanding of Palestinian voices through contemporary literature and media. 4. Develop an understanding of students [sic] personal relation in the conflict and how it affects them, as well as how to develop the skills to communicate their understanding to others.

As Verity Educate points out, only objectives 3 and 4 are reconciled by the course’s syllabus, as the syllabus outlines biased, anti-Zionist, and non-academic readings.

The Executive Director of Verity Educate, Ellen R. Wald Ph.D., has taught at Boston University, the University of Georgia, and she currently teaches at Jacksonville University. Furthermore, Dr. Wald has taught the history of foreign relations at Boston University and various topics in Middle East history at the University of Georgia and Jacksonville University, including "Arab-Israel Conflict," "Modern Middle East," and "Medieval Middle East.” Dr. Wald has additionally written extensively on various topics related to the Middle East and education.

When asked in an exclusive interview with Shalom Life about her initial personal reaction in finding out about the course, Dr. Wald responds, “Because I teach courses in the field, I am familiar with many of the authors and readings mentioned and was struck by the lack [of] sources that provide any actual information about the subject.” Dr. Wald further comments, “Almost all of the sources were personal accounts written by individuals with little academic expertise in the subject matter, or sociological pieces written to vilify Zionism and Israeli society.”

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