MANZAR FOROOHAR: THE CALIFORNIA FACULTY ASSOCIATION'S
By Lee Kaplan
Blandly titled, "CFA Call for a Halt to Violence Against All Civilians in Palestine and Israel," the resolution was, in fact, blatantly anti-Israel. According to University of California - Los Angeles Professor Emeritus Leila Beckwith and University of California - Santa Cruz Hebrew Lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, writing at American Thinker in January, 2010:
Why would an academic union that acts as an exclusive bargaining representative within CSU and is devoted to improving working conditions for its members pass a resolution regarding international affairs? It turns out CFA President and California State University - Los Angeles History Professor Lillian Taiz — according to interviews with CFA members, and, as the list of Committee resolutions makes clear — appointed the members of a statewide Committee in 2008 for this very purpose. With the exception of Foroohar, none of the unelected committee members have any expertise in Middle East Studies, which might explain why their names were not listed on the resolution, nor was it prominently displayed on the CFA website in 2009. But during a phone interview, Stanley Oden, a professor in the Department of Government at Sacramento State University and a current member of the Committee, acknowledged that Foroohar was behind the 2009 resolution. Additionally, even though the names of Committee members no longer appear at the CFA website, a screen capture from 2008 demonstrates that both Foroohar and Oden were on the Committee not long before the resolution was passed.
The resolution was slipped quietly in front of CFA members — for whom monthly dues are mandatory — for endorsement; afterward, several of them, when contacted by this author, said they felt duped. Decrying "violence against civilians — whether in Palestine or Israel" in the "interest of peace and greater humanity in the region," the wording of the resolution led CFA members to believe that, by signing it they would simply be supporting innocent victims. They were also unaware of the level of anti-Israel activism engaged in by Foroohar and others on the Committee.
A cursory review of Foroohar's academic work at Cal Poly reveals that she donates a good deal of her time both inside and outside the classroom to demonizing Israel, particularly by promoting boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). Indeed, Foroohar, along with a number of Middle East Studies academics teaching in California, is on the organizing committee for the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, a group that works internationally to promote BDS.
The bibliographies and hand-outs for Foroohar's Middle East History courses reveal a biased professor trying to convince her students to blame Israel for the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict and to reject Zionism. Student comments at PolyRatings.com demonstrate as much, with one of them flatly stating that "This professor has an agenda. Her classes are nothing but propaganda to support her cause." Fittingly, she supports her "research" with pseudo-scholarship that reiterates standard anti-Israel propaganda, including selections from Stephen Walt and John Mearshimer's notoriously shoddy book, The Israel Lobby.
Foroohar is known for inviting virulently anti-Israel speakers to Cal Poly. In January, 2003, a lecture series offered in conjunction with one of her courses included Israeli "peace activist" Susy Mordechay speaking about "The Assault on Palestinian Civilian Life, 2000-2002"; University of Southern California Linguistics Professor Hagit Borer on "Zionism: Myth and Reality"; and Jeff Halper, Anthropology Professor Emeritus at Ben Gurion University in Israel and Director of the one-man NGO, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, on "The Key to an Israeli-Palestinian Peace: Dismantling Israel's Matrix of Control." In November, 2004, Foroohar moderated a presentation featuring Ilan Pappe, an Israeli expatriate and "New Historian," who is one of Israel's harshest critics and now teaches in the United Kingdom. Among other attempts to rewrite history in order to tarnish Israel's image, Pappe was involved in the scholarly fabrication of a nonexistent massacre of Arabs in the village of Tantura in 1948.
Along the same lines, Foroohar gave lectures at California State University - Sacramento in February, 2009, titled, "Occupation of Palestine: The Obstacle to Peace" and "Zionism and Peace: Compatible or Contradictory Ideas?" In March, 2009, she took part in a panel discussion at the University of Southern California titled, "From la Frontera to Gaza: Chicano-Palestinian Connections." She presented a slide show and discussion at California State University - Fresno, in October, 2002, on "Occupation and Resistance." In May, 2005, Foroohar moderated a discussion session at Cal Poly following a Muslim Student Association co-sponsored screening of several anti-Israel "documentaries," including "Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land."
In the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist atrocities, Foroohar blamed U.S. support for Israel, in large part, for the attacks and warned that Israel would use it as pretext for violence. As she put it:
According to another Cal Poly faculty member who prefers to remain anonymous, Foroohar helped organize the Students for Justice and Peace in the Middle East-sponsored "Wall of Separation" displays on her campus from 2007 through 2010. During at least one of those occasions, she also gave a presentation. He added that:
Had CFA members been aware of Foroohar's extremist background, it's a safe assumption they would have been hesitant to endorse the 2009 resolution. That a radical academic such as Foroohar was able to impose her anti-Israel positions on a union representing 23,000 faculty, counselors, librarians, and coaches on twenty-three campuses speaks volumes about the ability of a fanatical few to advance a deceptive, and often false, narrative on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Moreover, the campaign to delegitimize Israel through the CFA didn't stop with the 2009 resolution. It may have opened the door for a future resolution to boycott and divest from Israel, which union leadership — responding to this author's interview requests during and after the closed-door 74th CFA Assembly in San Francisco on April 8-9, 2011 — refused to confirm or deny is in the works. At the conference, Nena Torrez, an education professor at California State University - San Bernadino and current member of the Committee, was whisked away by her colleagues before I could broach the subject of BDS, while later requests for an appointment with CFA staff were stymied and eventually labeled "harassment."
A number of CFA members certainly believe that a BDS resolution has been passed, and the fact that union leadership has engaged an attorney who has advised them not to discuss boycott-related issues with the rank and file would seem to back up their suspicions. In addition, several CFA members have consulted an attorney about the unelected members of the Committee authoring politicized resolutions against the wishes of the membership-at-large. Meanwhile, the second largest academic union in the U.S.A. may soon begin promoting boycotting and divesting from the Jewish state.
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Lee Kaplan is an investigative journalist and columnist who writes for Isracampus.org.il, Israel National News, and the Northeast Intelligence Network. He is a Fellow at the American Center for Democracy and the founder of DAFKA.org and StoptheISM.com.
The foregoing article by Lee Kaplan was written for the Middle East Forum's Campus Watch, was published in Front Page Magazine, June 3, 2011, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (URL: http://www.meforum.org/2924/manzar-foroohar-california-faculty-association)
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