The UW Stroum Center is losing critical support due to, wait for it, Israel.
Thank you for leading us through the convolutions of this story! I'm told by someone in another academic setting that the UW program's relationship with the community is unique, and it would be a shame to weaken the Ladino program.
I'm glad I came upon this story. I had heard about the $5 million being returned but the details you included really helped to flesh out the situation. There does seem to be a really big disconnect between donors from the community and the people involved in the organizations they donate to. Cheers to Mrs. Benaroya for sticking to her principles. What an unfortunate situation for the Seattle Jewish community.
Abe Bergman: I taught at the UW for 50 years and for the past 5 years have been taking history classes as an access student. My courses in Jewish Studies have been hugely satisfying. I did not know that secular/academic studies even existed.
While you your article gives voice to the concerns of community members about the words of the letter signed by the faculty members, and their dissatisfaction with not being involved with faculty recruitment. But you devote too little attention to two issues:
1. Free speech and academic freedom: To what extent should faculty members be barred from expressing personal opinions that may be unpopular. None in my opinion. When a Garfield High Student in the late '40's I attending hearings of the Cantwell UnAmerican Activities Committee. A number of professors were fired for refusing to sign loyalty oaths.
2. What will "Stand by US'" do with the $5 million that may be headed its way? To "educate" the public that criticisms of Israel government policies is disloyal and evidence of anti-Semitism. I abhorred Bibi Netanyahu especially his strident racism. I was not care any less about of the nation of Israel because of those feelings.
I strongly agree that university personal should not be cloistered in ivory towers, but be actively involved in the community. And in the case of Jewish Studies, active with all elements of Seattle's Jewish Community.
Starting Cholent is a brave venture. Warm wishes for your success!
The point isn't one person's opinion vs. another. It's the quality of scholarship and the difference between historical accuracy and propaganda. For example, consider the photo of children that set off a firestorm of anti-Israel sentiment. When a provocative photo like that circulates, it is the responsibility of scholars to exercise due diligence. The ADL and Reuters both reported that this photo was actually not from Gaza. It was from Syria. So this wave of anti-Israel sentiment was based on fake news, also known as disinformation. It is the responsibility of a University to counter disinformation. The department should have contacted UW's Center for an Informed Public to counter the disinformation that was spread on social media. It was incompetent scholarship for them to just ride the wave and sign the petition. That is the first violation of accuracy in scholarship. Second, there is no such country as "Israel/Palestine." Israel is a sovereign country. There is an Arab party as part of the governing coalition. There are territories governed by the PA and Gaza was taken over by Hamas. It is the responsibility of professors to teach accurate history and not propaganda. Third, Israel ceded Gaza to the PA and it became an armed camp. It was Arafat, not Israel, who said no to Bill Clinton's plan to create a Palestinian state and the two-state solution. And Arafat's "reason" leads us to the fourth point. Arafat and subsequent negotiators demanded the "right of return." But it is inaccurate and disingenuous as a matter of academic scholarship to teach material about displacement of Palestinians without also teaching the history of the displacement of Jews from Arab countries in the Middle East. In summary, this issue is one of the responsibility of professors to engage in accuracy and not fall prey to propaganda.