[The following public letter was sent on 28 November 2017 by Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi to the chancellor of the University of California Berkeley in response to a camaign against Dr. Hatem Bazian.]
From: Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 8:01 PM
Cc: Hatem Ahmad Bazian
Subject: Strongly urging you to protect your faculty member, Dr. Hatem Bazian
Dear Chancellor Carol Christ:
I am writing with extreme alarm and urgency. Dr. Hatem Bazian has come under attack by right-wing pro-Israel groups, such as Campus Watch and Stand With Us, who have seized on a mistake he made and for which he already apologized to escalate their campaign to silence Palestinian scholarship and advocacy for justice in/for Palestine on US campuses in a reincarnation of McCarthyist tactics.
I have known Dr. Bazian for several years and have had the pleasure of working closely with him in the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at the Center for Race and Gender and as a co-founder of the Islamophobia Studies Journal of which he is the founding editor. I have also worked closely with Dr. Bazian at Berkeley, SFSU, SF Bay Area communities and in the US academy. His generosity with his time is only paralleled by his high moral fiber, integrity, uncompromising compass and strong commitment in words and deeds against all forms of racism and racial discrimination, including Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Blackness, erasure of indigeneity, anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian discrimination.
I urge you to strong reject this bullying and smear campaign. I call on you to publicly defend Dr. Bazian against this witch hunt.
Dr. Bazian has inadvertently retweeted an offensive meme earlier this year. He has acknowledged the mistake—having not realized the full content of the image as it appeared on his phone—and immediately deleted the post once it was brought to his attention.
Dr. Bazian has also issued an apology on his social media accounts for unintentionally sharing the distasteful image, believing it contrary to the values and principles he upholds, and to his longstanding efforts to combat racism in all its forms—including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia:
A retweet was brought to my attention today and I went over my account from the past and do sincerely apologize for re-sending it, the image is offensive and does not represent my views or the anti-racist work that I do including fighting anti-Semitism in partnership with progressive Jewish groups that express solidarity with Palestine's rights to self-determination and have a strong track record on countering Islamophobia. At the time, I saw the image of the North Korean Kim Jong Un and tweeted it without giving it much thought as I was teaching a course in Spain and France. I did not realize or read the full text in detail until it started re-appearing on my twitter feed again from a number of pro-Israel groups that target Palestinians. As a matter of policy, I don't respond, as I focus on my work and ignore the attacks. As a Palestinian, my issue is with Zionism, a settler colonial movement and Israel's policies directed at Palestinians under occupation and those that live as second or maybe fourth class citizens in the state and not with Judaism or Jews, as diverse communities. The image in the tweet and the framing relative to Judaism and conversion was wrong and offensive and not something that reflects my position, be it in the past or the present. I take responsibility for my words and statements and stand by my own work relative to Palestine, BDS and opposition to Zionism and settler colonialism and those who take issue on the content of my scholarship and work are welcome to disagree and offer a defense of their point of view in the open market of ideas. In the future, I will make sure to include that retweets don't represent an agreement or support for the ideas that are shared and only my own postings reflect my positions on issues. Dr. Hatem Bazian, Berkeley, Nov. 21st, 2017
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, PhD
Director and Senior Scholar, Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies
Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies/Race and Resistance Studies
College of Ethnic Studies
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Ave, EP 425
San Francisco, CA 94132