Posted: 11/2/2015 12:20:00 PM
Author: Dr. Phyllis Chesler
Source: This article was first poublished on FRONTPAGE (on;line) on Nov. 1`-2, 2015.

The persecution of Dr. Nussbaum at Mount San Jacinto College for being pro-Israel.
by Dr. Phyllis Chesler

Editor's note: See Part I of this 2-Part Series HERE.

Professor Denise Nussbaum is a strong believer in objective truth and a lover of Zion. She is also the Chair of the Sociology Department, an author, and an expert in “bias, diversity, race, ethnicity, and discrimination” at her campus: Mount San Jacinto College (MSJC) which occupies four campuses in California: San Jacinto, Menifee, Beaumont/Banning, and Temecula. Professor Nussbaum has received grants and awards on this very campus for her work in “diversity training.”

How ironic, how tragic, that such an academic should have to face accusations that she herself is allegedly “biased” and wants to censor academic, free speech.

How frightening that she is now being shunned by her colleagues of sixteen years—and that, earlier this month, she had to file a Notice of Claim against her college District based on a variety of charges including “discrimination, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment, retaliation, and tortious interferences with law enforcement investigation.”

What exactly happened?

Dr. Nussbaum challenged an invitation to an outside speaker, Miko Peled, an Israeli Jew. According to J.J. Surbeck, the head of T.E.A.M (Training and Education About the Middle East), Peled was a long-time martial arts instructor in California who was not known as an academic. He is the author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, published by Just Words Books in 2012. Introduced by Alice Walker, the frequent-Turkish flotilla goer, it seems to be a briskly selling title.

According to Nussbaum, Peled writes that “Iran is not the threat, Israel is.” He engages in non-stop falsehoods against the Jewish State. Peled has "seriously mischaracterized Israeli actions as 'a mission to destroy the Palestinian people,' accused Israeli Defense Forces of 'ethnic cleansing,' and falsely stated that the ongoing peace process is "a process of apartheid and colonization.'"

Nussbaum objected to Peled’s invitation on the grounds that he does not deliver academic speeches about "Israel-Palestine” but only inflammatory, irrational, anti-Zionist speeches. Her view prevailed among a majority of the faculty in charge of such lectures. And that’s when she became a marked woman.

Another faculty member, Shahla Razavi, an Iranian professor of Mathematics and an Amnesty International advisor, began a smear campaign against her. In a Letter to the Diversity Committee (which I have obtained), Razavi actually compared Peled to “Nelson Mandela,” and “Martin Luther King;” she wrote that “Miko Peled stands as one of them.” Razavi insisted that the American doctrine of “academic freedom” is meant to protect incitement to genocide and other non-academic ravings. She also referred to various United Nations International Court of Justice rulings against Israel.

I will not repeat these allegations here since, in my view, the United Nations has been effective in only one area: That of legalizing Jew hatred. It has prevented no genocides, rescued no sex slaves, challenged no Muslim country on its religious and gender apartheid, no barbarians on their destruction of humanity's heritage (beginning with the Buddhas of Bamiyan and the earth beneath the Temple Mount in Jerusalem), but has, rather, scapegoated Israel for all such Muslim crimes.

In her letter, Razavi also claimed that Nussbaum had threatened to “rally thousands of Jews” against her and against the Peled event and alleged that Nussbaum was “infringing on (her) right to academic freedom.”

Nussbaum wrote to the Diversity Committee too; she denied making a threat of "rallying Jews," showed how Razavi took what she did say out of context, and insisted that she had infringed on nobody’s academic freedom. Nussbaum wrote the following:

“What my email to the author (Razavi) stated was: "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is incredibly important and deserves and open-minded, honest, factual, and academic discussion. If we are to bring this hot topic to campus it must be in a balanced and scholarly manner.”

Nevertheless, the smear campaign was underway. For four months, hundreds of Nussbaum’s colleagues were told that Nussbaum was against academic freedom, believed in censorship, and was extremely biased when it came to discussions about Israel. During this time, no investigator contacted her and the campus harassment continued.

And then—Something Else Happened. Nussbaum continues:

“To have my voice heard, I wore a sandwich board to a faculty meeting that read: 'When did we abandon academic integrity for academic freedom.' There were two quotes from Martin Luther King Jr: 'When people criticize Zionist(s), they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism,' and 'Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity.' Her board also had a quote from Gandhi: 'What is really needed to make a democracy function is not knowledge of facts, but right education.' There was also some peace literature.”

"My sandwich board was taken from where I’d left it leaning against a wall. When I found it, one of my opponents was holding it. I went to retrieve it, found myself in the middle of my four opponents in a yelling match, and one of the men grabbed my arm. I tried to yank my arm free, could not, screamed 'TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF ME!!!' I tried to yank my arm free, could not, and screamed 'LET GO OF MY ARM!!!' I finally yanked free, though he never loosened his grip. At least 100 people were in the room. People admitted to hearing 'something' or 'a ruckus' or 'Denise yelling,' but no one came forward."

What is this really about? In my view, this physical assault had a bit less to do with prejudice against Israel per se and more to do with prejudice against women. Nussbaum is a Zionist but she is also a high profile feminist on campus—and a woman. The College’s failure to come to her aid and its eventual decision to pay her attacker’s legal costs and to actually share the same lawyer with him also confirm a profound lowering of academic and ethical standards, a caving in to bullies, and gender discrimination.

Gary Vargas, an Associate Professor of History at MSJC, was standing with Razavi at the faculty meeting. Some of Vargas's female students had confided in Nussbaum; they said that Vargas had treated them in “misogynistic” ways and that he was scornful of feminist ideas. Vargas demanded that Nussbaum “name names.” She refused to do so. It was Vargas who gripped her arm very hard and would not let go. He demanded that she tell him who these students were; he wanted them to face him directly.

Vargas’s assault left a very large and ugly bruise. (I have seen photographs of her arm after this attack.) And it shattered Nussbaum’s sense of safety on campus. None of the one-hundred people in the room came to her aid. Thereafter, according to Nussbaum:

“My opponents used unethical and illegal measures—colluding; sharing privileged information; academic bullying (making threats to not support tenure), and threats of litigation—to spread their narrative. They claimed I was coercing the Diversity Committee (DC) to rescind Peled’s invitation (which the DC eventually did), but Peled’s supporters brought him anyway, despite the protests of many MSJC teachers and students. They claimed I was trying to squash free speech and academic freedom (another lie. I suggested a panel, a debate, a mediator, etc. they refused each time). They claimed I was a puppet of AIPAC, as were the members of Congress who wrote letters on my behalf (Juan Vargas, Duncan Hunter). And of course, they claimed I was an Islamophobe.”

“My opponents’ campaign was so insidious, that not one day would pass without a student or faculty member asking me why I was attacking my colleagues; why I was bullying the Amnesty International advisor; why did I hate Palestinians, etc. Even those friendly to me called me a “trouble-maker”. Between February and April, I made two formal complaints of workplace harassment, and I had had two private phone conversations with my college President, who swore he had my back, that my opponent was “bat-shit crazy” and “out to get” me. He later denied all of this in a deposition. He and HR promised they took my complaints seriously and that an independent investigator had been assigned. Nothing was done.”

What the hell is going on?

Anti-Israel Brownshirts are employing a new tactic on American campuses, one that is eerily similar to the recent up-close-and-personal stoning of individual Israelis by Palestinian mobs.

In both cases, these attacks are characterized by a lynch mob mentality in which a horde attacks one or two individuals.

The difference is that the attacks in Israel target random individuals. On campus, highly competent, often beloved professors in areas unrelated to the Middle East-- but who are known supporters of Israel--are carefully targeted.

This is precisely what happened earlier this very year to tenured Philosophy Professor Andrew Pessin at Connecticut College. And it also happened to tenured Sociology Professor Denise Nussbaum at MSJC at about the same time.

Both professors have been accused of “racism,” “Islamophobia,” “hate speech,” and defamed as supporters of “ethnic cleansing.” These false allegations were spread globally over the internet and locally in college media.

Pessin critiqued Hamas’s war against Israel last summer; Nussbaum questioned the wisdom of inviting a known anti-Israel, non-academic, highly incendiary outside speaker to discuss Israel-Palestine.

In both instances, women launched the smear campaigns. At Connecticut College, a hijab-wearing student of Bangladeshi origin launched the ideological lynch mob; at MSJC, an Iranian Mathematics Professor led the charge. Both women were highly aggressive, persistently hostile, and tactically expert in propaganda warfare. They used clearly identified buzz words calculated to evoke sympathy, fear, anger, and hatred--words such as “Israeli Nazi soldiers,” “Israeli apartheid,” “persecuted Palestinians,” “persecuted indigenous people,” etc.

According to Professor Nussbaum, the Iranian professor had her husband sit at important meetings and “glare,” non-stop, for long periods of time, a tactic which disconcerted, intimidated, and disoriented everyone. She also began a four month smear and whisper campaign against Nussbaum, claiming that Nussbaum opposed academic freedom, believed in censorship, opposed free speech, and had threatened the Iranian by promising to “rally Jews” against her.

In both cases, the college administrations supported the lynch mobs, not the attacked target. This is eerily similar to the way in which the global media supports the Palestinian stoners and stabbers as “resistance fighters.”

In Professor Pessin’s case, the administration hastily arranged a series of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel events—and provided no support for Professor Pessin when he began receiving hate mail and death threats. They did not reach out to him in sympathy when he took a medical leave and, to the best of my knowledge, six months later, they still have not done so.

In Professor Nussbaum’s case, the college is treating her as a whistle-blower and retaliating against her. After the college failed to investigate her charges (mentioned above), she filed a Claim of Notice against the District. (Professor Pessin also has a legal suit pending).

As previously noted, the College hired the same lawyer to defend both itself and Vargas. It took MSJC five months to finally get around to interviewing Vargas after he assaulted Nussbaum on school premises. And then, according to Nussbaum’s lawyers, Ken and Robert Rose, the person “supervising this presumably ‘independent and impartial’ investigation was representing Vargas at the interview.”

Having to take a medical leave was painful for Professor Nussbaum but, like Professor Pessin, she had to do so. Nussbaum gritted her teeth and returned this fall only to face hell.

She says:

“In general, my colleagues and administrators now look the other way when I walk by. Like I don’t exist. I am a pariah. No one wants to get involved. I was one of the most powerful faculty members on campus. If this could happen to me it could happen to anyone. Some faculty members and students asked me why I hated (the Iranian attacker), and why I opposed free speech and academic freedom.”

A colleague with whom she has “worked for years,” now calls her “the trouble maker.” When questioned, this colleague admitted that she had heard “something” about “my trying to keep a peace activist from coming to campus.” Nussbaum then explained to her who Miko Peled (the invited speaker) really is. Her colleague’s response? “Well, I have a Palestinian student….”

Nussbaum’s union President “was actively lobbying for (my) abuser at our graduation ceremony when the entire faculty was present but I wasn’t. This woman had been a friend, she has been to my home. She admitted that while she had been present, she did not see what happened. Others told her that ‘it was no big deal.’”

This semester, the Administration has been actively undercutting her teaching schedule and her responsibilities as Chair of her Department. “No administrators, including my Academic Dean have communicated to me since my first complaint of harassment.” (This was the problem long before she brought a lawsuit; in fact, as previously noted, just such non-communication and non-action is one of the reasons she was forced to sue).

Her Administration did not pursue her complaint; then, the Campus Police lied to Nussbaum’s attorneys, saying that Nussbaum had not wanted to take the matter any further. Now, according to Nussbaum, her Dean is changing her program without telling her and writing to her associate faculty members without including her. “It is unheard of. No one, not a single person in administration at the school has ever, once, contacted me to offer support or information.”

Nussbaum, like Pessin, is being shunned. Without due process, they have been found guilty of politically incorrect Thought Crimes. The craven crowd believes that even if the allegations are false, that such professors deserve to be driven out.

The long and toxic propaganda campaign against Israel led to suicide killers and stabbers in Israel who wantonly murdered innocent civilians—but who were still viewed as “freedom fighters.”

The results of this same campaign may also be seen on American and Canadian campuses. Crack-pot views are being treated as scholarly; real scholars are being successfully damned as racists—and harassed off campus and out of the academic world.

We should all be very worried about this.