ANTI-ISRAEL GROUP AT UW ISSUES STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR JEWISH STUDIES PROFESSOR
“WE SUPPORT [HALPERIN’S] RIGHT TO EXPRESS ACADEMIC CRITICISM OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL“
The University of Washington Stroum Center for Jewish Studies continues to be embroiled in controversy eleven months after professors, Liora Halperin and Devin Naar signed onto a vituperation of the Jewish state. Using language of delegitimization, the Stroum Center professors railed against Israel as being informed by “settler colonial paradigms” and contributing to “Jewish supremacy, ethnonational segregation, discrimination, and violence…”. The professor’s verbal assault against Israel in the midst of Hamas rocket attacks sent shockwaves across the Seattle Jewish community. Naar’s endorsement of the anti-Israel statement resulted in months of internal division and rancor within Seattle’s large Sephardic community, with whom Naar, the Isaac Alhadeff Professor in Sephardic Studies had built close relationships.
In a story broken by The Cholent Newsletter and later carried across news services worldwide, the scandal culminated in the UW’s return of the $5 million Jack and Rebecca Benaroya Endowed Chair in Israel Studies to the donor, Becky Benaroya. Mrs. Benaroya reportedly requested the return of the funds after being alarmed by “the direction the program had taken“.
While alienating herself from some for her anti-Israel polemics, Halperin’s actions have garnered approbation from an entirely different quarter. SUPER UW, an affiliate of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), issued a statement in support of Halperin today, stating “SUPER UW believes in the right to criticize Israel, a right that interrogates the legitimacy of the state and its Zionist ideology”.
While making an exception for anti-Israel speech, the group has no problem stifling opinions when it is not to their liking. SUPER UW are staunch supporters of the antisemitic BDS movement and academic boycotts of Israel. In 2019 they attempted to bar a Jewish campus organization from participating in a Middle Eastern cultural festival.
SUPER UW, is itself no stranger to controversy, having defended convicted Palestinian Terrorist Rasmea Odeh and having called for the release of Khader Adnan, a senior member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The group is the sponsor of the annual Palestine Awareness Week on the University of Washington campus.