The Organizing Collective of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel protests and condemns in strongest terms the wrongful termination of the employment of Professor Mazen Adi by Rutgers University. According to exchanges between Professor Adi and Rutgers staff, including Rutgers Chancellor Debasish Dutta and President Robert Barchi, Rutgers breached its contract with Dr. Adi for employment to commence in the Spring 2018 Semester based on his imputed stance on the civil rights of Palestinians, his reference in class regarding Palestinian perspectives on Israeli military occupation, and his statements about Israel at the U.N. during his tenure as a Syrian Representative to the United Nations in New York, which were made by Dr. Adi in his official capacity on behalf of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, and in articulation of the official Syrian political and diplomatic position on Israel. (Professor Adi had resigned from his diplomatic post in 2014).
The University’s actions in this case are racist, violate faculty members’ protected rights to freedom of expression and show callous disregard for the protected personal and academic freedoms of its staff in response to clearly biased private pressures. For articulating factually verified accounts of Israeli actions toward Palestinians and Israeli actions in the MENA region, Dr. Adi was left jobless and humiliated and defamed by Rutgers.
Dr. Adi’s expulsion from Rutgers is part of a larger pattern of systematic suppression of free speech supportive of Palestinian human rights. The classification of speech critical of Israeli practices and policies as hate speech, warranting dismissal, threatens not only those supportive of Palestinian rights but threatens the 1st amendment rights of all academics and all workers in the US generally, and threatens the mandate of public universities to serve as platforms of free and critical thought. It is now more crucial than ever to ward against the threat of attack on those who dissent to state-sponsored policies and positions, for the health and welfare of greater society the academy must remain a space where all are protected as they engage in sophisticated debate and brave dissent.
Rutgers’ imposition of the most unusual and extraordinary requirement that Dr. Adi – or any professor – secure the approval of an outside private opposition group before it can act on its own contract, would be an unconstitutional violation of First Amendment rights in any case, and all academics and academies should be outraged by Rutgers actions.
Furthermore, any claim that students, or colleagues, or outside/private interest groups have the right to be free from what they consider uncomfortable criticism or from being subjected to views contrary to those they hold, is profoundly threatening to the fundamental tenets of university life and intellectual community, and the concept of free speech itself. This is all the more disconcerting when said criticisms merely seek to assert principles of universal human rights. While both federal and state law as well as university policy protect students from discrimination or antagonism based on their religious, ethnic, gender and other identities, no law could possibly protect students or faculty from challenges to their political, religious or cultural beliefs when such discourse is conducted in a non-coercive, non-racist, and non-violent manner.
In all universities, and especially in public universities, “academic freedom” is a right and not a privilege preserved only for those who serve the status quo. Any organization, internal or external, that seeks to limit the free and full deliberation of any viewpoint, or the representation of perspectives inimical to it, offends the core principles upon which academic life essentially relies. USACBI therefore demands that Rutgers University take immediate action to remedy the damage that it has done to Dr. Adi.
Organizing Collective, United States Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
And The Undersigned:
Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus, Princeton
Cynthia Franklin, Professor, University of Hawai’i
Terri Ginsberg, Assistant Professor, American University of Cairo, former Adjunct Professor, Rutgers University
Salah Hassan, Associate Professor, Michigan State University
Charlotte Kates, International Coordinator, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network; Rutgers alumna
John King, Associate Adjunct Professor, New York University; Composer/Musician/Curator
David Klein, Professor, California State University at Northridge
Michael Letwin, Labor for Palestine; Jews for Palestinian Right of Return; Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325 (NYC)
Sunaina Maira, Professor, Asian American Studies, UC Davis
Bill V. Mullen, Professor, Purdue University
Andrew Ross, Professor, New York University
Malini Schueller, Professor, University of Florida
Snehal Shingavi, Associate Professor, University of Texas