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15 When Did We Abandon Academic Integrity for Academic Freedom? Denise Nussbaum Denise Nussbaum’s narrative shows what happens when anti-Israelism gets out of control. She describes the activities of her campus chapter of Amnesty International, which for years relentlessly sponsored anti-Israel events. When the group won campus funding to bring Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activist Miko Peled to speak, Nussbaum decided to act. She documented Peled’s lack of academic credentials and his fabrications and falsehoods. She stated that he was not a peace activist but sought the destruction of Israel, and she proposed preparing a more balanced presentation or organizing a bona fide academic panel. For this, she was rewarded with a smear campaign using lies and misrepresentations to represent her as a racist, an Islamophobe, and a bully opposing free speech. The university ignored her formal complaints of workplace harassment. Refusing to be silenced, Nussbaum protested at a faculty meeting. One of her colleagues got so worked up that he crossed the line from verbal to physical abuse, and nobody intervened. Now a pariah for resisting anti-Israelism on her campus, Nussbaum has filed suit against both her attacker and the school. I am a professor of sociology at Mt. San Jacinto College (MSJC) in Southern California, where I have worked for seventeen years. I have worked for equality and justice my whole career and am published in the fields of diversity, discrimination , and pedagogy. I am the founder and director of BEAR (Bias Education, Advocacy & Resources). I am the recipient of the Stanback-Stroud Diversity Award from the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. I am the matriarch of a large Jewish family that has dealt directly with antisemitism. I am also an alleged Islamophobe. In February 2015, I was asked by a fellow faculty member to look into a guest speaker who had been invited to our campus by the campus adviser for Amnesty International and who, through the adviser, was being sponsored by our Diversity Committee. That speaker was Miko Peled, a leading voice of the BDS movement. After twenty-two years of fighting for the minority rights of others, the fight for my minority group—for Jews, for Israel—came to my campus. When Did We Abandon Academic Integrity for Academic Freedom? | 213 Initially, I was not concerned. I thought that once I informed my colleagues on the Diversity Committee who this man was—a BDS advocate who calls for the destruction of Israel—surely they would rethink their support. Certainly, they would see the danger in bringing such hateful speech to our campus, especially without any balanced or scholarly discussion. This was not about free speech or academic freedom but about academic integrity. I argued that the Diversity Committee should not sponsor a speaker who openly calls for, and regularly justifies , violence against innocent Israelis. I endeavored to educate my community through letters, literature, and speeches. As I pursued ethical and legal measures, my anti-Israel colleagues began a campaign of hate and lies so vicious that within two months our campus was a seriously hostile environment, not only for Jewish students and faculty, but for anyone who spoke out in favor of Israel. In the end, I was publicly attacked at a faculty meeting—verbally and physically—as my colleagues and administrators watched ... and did nothing. This is my story. Amnesty International Brings BDS to MSJC Over the past few years, I had begun to hear, from students and colleagues, about the anti-Israel bias of our campus chapter of Amnesty International. A quick look at the organization’s events over the previous eight years revealed an average of four anti-Israel films, speakers, or events per year. The number of proIsrael events: zero. Films or events vilifying any state or country besides Israel for human rights abuses: zero. While walking across campus early in the spring semester in 2015, my colleague informed me that our very own Diversity Committee, which she and I had cofounded fifteen years earlier, had voted to sponsor an event with Peled. The Amnesty International adviser had told the Diversity Committee that Peled was a world-renowned peace activist and likened him to Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. The committee voted to give Peled the bulk of their yearly budget: $2,500. The few professors and students who were familiar with BDS were upset that we were paying to bring what we considered to be hate speech to our campus. I decided...


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