[Marxism] Doug Henwood interviews William I. Robinson
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
By DOUG HENWOOD
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
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-...
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
Doug Henwood is the editor of the Left Business Observer and host of
WBAI's Behind the News.
More information about the Marxism