[Marxism] Doug Henwood interviews William I. Robinson

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Apr 29 13:39:35 MDT 2009

Counterpunch April 29, 2009
An Interview with William Robinson
Zionist Lobby Targets Another Tenured Professor


Doug Henwood: We're now joined by William Robinson, who is a Professor 
of Sociology at the University of California in Santa Barbara, someone I 
met about six or seven years ago at a conference and, although I've 
disagreed with him on some issues, I thought he's a serious and 
thoughtful guy. I was very distressed to learn, reading Insider Higher 
Ed, the website, today that he's being persecuted by the Zionist lobby 
for an e-mail that he sent around to some of his students. Welcome 
William Robinson, tell us the story of what you sent and what's been 

William Robinson: Yes, good afternoon to everyone. I included some 
material which was highly critical of the Israeli invasion of Gaza as 
part of the reading material for a course on globalization and global 
affairs, and this was in January. And I am now facing charges, here at 
the university, of anti-semitism and violating the faculty code of 
conduct because two students in the course  - there were eighty students 
- these two submitted a formal letter of complaint  that they found 
offensive the material condemning the invasion of Gaza. The students 
immediately withdrew from the course, I don't even know them personally. 
And what is particularly egregious about this case is not that the 
students submitted a complaint - any student is allowed to do that - but 
rather that the university took the complaint seriously and is actually 
prosecuting me...

DH: You have tenure right?

WR: Yes, I am tenured, I am a full time professor...

DH: So in theory you're protected against persecution for your beliefs.

WR: No, in theory, I have total, I and even if I don't have tenure, have 
academic freedom, and this is in total violation of my academic freedom 
and of all of the principles of academic freedom, and of the 
university's own charter on academic freedom, and the American 
Association of University Professors principles and procedures on 
academic freedom, so there is absolutely no basis for any of this. 
What's going on, and I want to explain, behind the scenes we have been 
able to find out  - students on campus and faculty have formed a 
Committee to Defend Academic Freedom which is taking up this issue, and 
by the way, there is a blog that they put up with all of this 
information, which at some point I would like to give your listeners - 
but we have found out that the Anti-Defamation League, which, as you 
know, and your listeners probably know, is an organization which, at one 
time, did very good and very important work in denouncing anti-Semitism, 
but since then has become a, basically, a mouthpiece for the Israeli 
government, a defender of the policies and practices of the Israeli 
state, and goes after and attacks anyone that criticizes those policies. 
So these students did not even accuse me of doing anything which we 
would consider anti-Semitism - discrimination against Jews, against the 
Jewish religion and so forth - they said openly and outright that the 
professor introduces material which criticized the state of Israel and 
that equals anti-semitism.

DH: Now, I think some people found offensive that you had likened 
Israeli behavior to the Nazis. Is that an issue?

WR: Well I didn't do that. What I did was I forwarded several items from 
the world media, from the internet media. One item was an article 
written by a Jewish journalist in a Jewish newspaper here in the United 
States, and it was criticizing the invasion of Gaza...

DH: So you didn't endorse this position?

WR: I didn't endorse it but I did include, I said, in presenting this 
material, I said that Gaza is Israel's Warsaw and I explained the 
context. That's because in Warsaw the Nazi's surrounded Warsaw, 
concentrated Jews in Warsaw, wouldn't let anyone in, wouldn't let anyone 
out, wouldn't let supplies in, wouldn't let supplies out; as a result 
there was famine and disease and so forth...

DH: Which is exactly what's...

WR: ...exactly and precisely what the Israeli's are doing in Gaza. And 
that's been denounced by the Red Cross, the United Nations, the 
international human rights organizations, and moreover, academic freedom 
totally allows me to present such controversial material and that's part 
of what the university is all about. We academically debate these 
controversial issues. I want to explain though what happened. We got 
some inside information in the last week. The president of the 
Anti-Defamation League Abraham Fox-...

DH: Foxman

WR: Foxman, he arrived here in Santa Barbara and he called a meeting 
with a select group of faculty, and he called the meeting for no other 
reason than to say that we want  Professor Robinson prosecuted, and this 
is explosive. We have just learned about this; we're going to go public 
with it. And so there is this outside Israel lobby which has come on to 
campus, and which is accusing me of anti- Semitism and of doing all of 
these terrible things in order to create an atmosphere of complete 
intimidation. You know that anyone who criticizes the policies of the 
state of Israel is silenced, and is given that label of anti-semitism; 
that's a way of creating this atmosphere of intimidation, that no one 
can speak out about what's going on in Israel-Palestine, and so forth. 
That's the larger context.

DH: Ok, I'm sorry to make this so rushed, but this is a last minute 
addition and the rest of the show is full, just let me conclude...What 
can people do?

WR: [Go to] sb4af.wordpress.com. That's the blog that the Committee to 
Defend Academic Freedom has set up, and a lot of this information is on 
there, a lot of the documents are on there.

DH: All right, well thank you William Robinson and best of luck in your 
fight and we'll be back to look at this in the future.

WR: Thank-you, thank-you very much.

DH: I've been speaking with William Robinson, who is a professor of 
sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, under 
persecution by the intellectual police at the Zionist lobby, the 
Anti-Defamation League.

Doug Henwood is the editor of the Left Business Observer and host of 
WBAI's Behind the News.

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