Friday, September 13, 2013

San Diego State University Teacher Eliminates Israel from the Map

Mike L.

The snippets below were written by Cristin Severance of ABC News.
SAN DIEGO - A map distributed in a language class at San Diego State University labeled Israel as Palestine, leading to an outcry from the local Jewish community.

Sources told Team 10 the map was handed out by a professor on the second day of class in an Arabic language course. Sources said students were upset and unsure how to protest the erroneous map because they feared speaking out publicly could have a negative impact on their grades.
The teacher in question is Ghassan Zakaria who can be reached at / (619) 594-8800.

The Department Chair and Arabic Program Director is Professor Ghada Osman at / (619) 594-1910.
Nicole Bernstein, of Stand With Us, questioned the department chair about the map, and she shared that response with Team 10.

The department chair said the professor used Palestine in place of Israel on the labels to "reflect the view of Arab-speakers in the region."
The chair of the department said this?

This is highly irresponsible.  Neither the department chair, nor one of his lecturers, gets to decide that because the "Arab-speakers in the region" think that Israel does not exist, that it doesn't exist.
Team 10 contacted SDSU late Tuesday morning with questions about the handout, and on Tuesday afternoon the school issued this statement:

"While SDSU encourages scholarly debate and discussion of varying opinions, presenting inaccurate information to students in not acceptable. SDSU's Provost has conferred with the department chair, who spoke with the faculty member. This inaccurate portrayal will not reoccur."
So, the university claims that this kind of thing will not reoccur, but is that enough?

Should Zakaria be reprimanded?  Suspended?  Fired?

I honestly do not know the answer to those questions, but I also do not know that I am satisfied with the reaction of the department or the university.  This kind of thing affects all of us, because we cannot have teachers on any level suggesting to students that Israel does not exist or should not exist or is something other than a sovereign, autonomous country.

University professors - and even university lecturers - have every right to criticize Israeli policy, but they do not have the right to simply wipe Israel from the map.
“This is not only anti-Israel, it’s the elimination of Israel,” Nicole Bernstein, of Stand With Us, told 10NEWS.


  1. Brings to mind this recent story. It's all about where you draw the line.

    I do not work in academia, but I would think incitement to hatred (or incitement to genocide, which is the only way the fantasy of those who'd like to see Israel disappear could ever possibly come about) should always be out of bounds. Where does a free exchange of ideas bleed into hate speech, is the question, I guess.

    I personally don't think hate speech should be illegal, but I do believe those who practice it should suffer the personal and professional ramifications of being a terrible person. What those ramifications should be in any given field is yet a further question, I suppose.

    Local racist-slur slinging, football-playing idiot Riley Cooper will find himself under the media microscope every time he gets into a scuffle with a black player. Just like the other day.

    In my work environment, where I hear more profanity and uncomfortable jokes / stories in five minutes in the locker room than most people do in a year, there are even limits. Or at least the HR guy would have us believe.

    I am truly conflicted as to what to do with a teacher like this, but I suspect that in American colleges and universities today there are definitely some prejudices which are much more okay to hold than others.

    1. Mr. Zakaria is a lecturer, which means that he is not a PhD and has no tenure. He may be a graduate student in pursuit of his PhD and therefore teaches for the university.

      In any case, I think that he should be suspended for passing along disinformation to his students. His mistake was an intellectual mistake in that he clearly passed false information to the students in his class.

      This is not a matter of opinion, but of fact.

      Lecturers are allowed to be mistaken in matters of opinion, but in a matter of fact, such as this, it is inexcusable.

      It would be something akin to a college instructor telling his students that 2 + 2 = 135. It's simply unacceptable and degrades the reputation of both the department and the university.

      I actually called over there yesterday in order to gather what I can about what the department intends to do about this matter. I called the San Diego Stand With Us office, as well, and left a message with Mr. Zakaria, himself.

      I intend to pursue this a little bit, although there is obviously little that I can do today.

      I think that I want a tad bit more from the university and the department than "Oh. Ooops. Sorry."

    2. One further point I forgot to make is that nobody is 'owed' a job in any given field. He can keep his hateful views, and freely express them all he wants, but perhaps it's better for society if he does so while working a job which does not include molding impressionable minds.

      I would tend to agree with you, and look forward to your following up on this.

  2. Depending on who you ask there are likely more Arab speaking Israelis in Israel than there are 'palestinians'. There are 4 or 5 mainline Arabic newspapers/websites in Israel for instance. And an equal number of Arabic news websites in 'palestine'. The Israeli ones look less polished, I suspect because more people are bilingual anyway.