Even though many campuses should be in the spotlight for the work they do on Palestine and pro-Palestinian activism, the University of California at Berkeley has seemed to dominate the media around the issue. In addition to the public display of solidarity shown at the event on campus last week, a more private debate was going on within the academic structure of the university itself. At UC-Berkeley, student-led courses are a popular way for students to become more involved on campus, help give back to their fellow students through education and display passion for a subject.
This semester, one such student, senior Paul Hadweh, organized a course on Palestine titled “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis.” The goal of the course is to use the lens of settler colonialism to examine in-depth the history and context of Palestine. In a crazy twist of events, the administration suspended the course claiming that the course leaders hadn’t followed proper procedures to get the course approved. This, however, was completely false. Hadweh spent months working on the course and making sure that everything was done properly. In reality, pro-Israel advocacy groups have brought intense pressure on the university administration insisting that the course had an anti-Israel bias and perspective. This is ridiculous. Not only does it go against First Amendment rights and university guidelines, but it shows how clearly prejudiced the pro-Israel groups are against Palestinians. Second, when an event or program appears to be pro-Palestinian, Zionist students and groups jump in to prevent it from happening. In this case, the university met with Hadweh and after multiple letters from students enrolled in the course, arguments from Palestine Legal advisors and the case Hadweh brought himself, the administration reversed its decision and the course was reinstated. This is a huge victory not only for the students involved, but also for the larger pro-Palestinian movement and for the entire education system.
We should join together and praise the university’s decision to stand for what is right! I personally can’t wait to see what else comes from this course, and from UC Berkeley, in the coming weeks!
Here is the course outline and basic syllabus: http://www.decal.org/courses/4237
Here is a good article outlining what happened from Palestine Legal and some further links: http://palestinelegal.org/news/2016/9/19/uc-berkeley-reinstates-course-on-palestine
As I mentioned, this was covered by the media, as well: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/09/uc-berkeley-ban-palestine-mccarthyist-160918061835253.html