DePaul professor condemned for racist criticism of activists

DePaul professor condemned for racist criticism of activists
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DePaul professor condemned for racist criticism of activists

DePaul Professor Jason Hill calls activists who criticize Israel’s apartheid and racist practices against Christians and Muslims in Israel and in the occupied territories “anti-Semitic.” Hill’s comments attacking BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanction) have come under scrutiny from those who support peace and justice and have been denounced

By Ray Hanania

A DePaul Processor who wrongly conflates criticism of Israel with “anti-Semitism,” and who denounces activists who defend the rights of Christians and Muslims in Israel and Occupied Palestine, has been denounced this week by students and his peers.

Professor Jason Hill who denounced supporterss of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanction) movement as being “anti-Semitic” has been denounced by DePaul’s acting provost Salma Ghanem. Hill has written that Israel should formally annex the occupied West Bank but has been silent on Israel’s denial of rights to Christian and Muslim Arabs living under Israel’s brutal and oppressive military rule. He also said Christian and Muslims should be denied the right to vote, a shocking claim to many because it comes from an African American.

During an appearance on the Tucker Carlson cable TV talk program, Jason Hill described a column he wrote attacking BDS and non-Jewish rights under Israeli authoritarian oppression, saying incredulously, “… aside from defending Israel, I made the point that Israel was the only democracy amidst a bunch of illiberal and primitive regimes that do not respect the inalienability of human rights and individual rights. And I think students took offense and, individual faculty and people at large took offense at me defending Israel. And defending my right to defend Israel’s rights to defend itself against the war that was launched against it in 1967 by Jordan.”

Controversial DePaul professor Jason Hill courtesy of DePaul

Controversial DePaul professor Jason Hill courtesy of DePaul

Critics said they were not upset with him defending Israel but in his racist language and derogatory false comments about Israel’s critics which crossed the line into hatred. Hill has also called for stripping Christians and Muslims living in Israel of their rights. Hill has been supported and denounced by activists and other professors in the DePaulia and in other forums.

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Activists with Students for Justice in Palestine at DePaul said in a statement, “Following our joint meeting on Wednesday, May 15th, Chief of Academic Affairs and Acting Provost Salma Ghanem released a statement in support of the coalition’s effort in denouncing Professor Jason Hill’s racist rhetoric.”

Provost Ghanem expressed both her disapproval and condemnation of Professor Hill’s statements and also asserted DePaul’s commitment to restoring the sense of dignity and equality for DePaul students who have been affected. Hill has also embraced extremist rhetoric by extremists who have also been denounced as racist like Israeli fanatic Caroline Glick.

This, professor Ghanem acknowledges, is a direct result of the continuous work and pressure placed on DePaul’s administration by students, alumni, and faculty members who are working tirelessly to ensure the Vincentian mission is not selectively upheld, but is instead a value extended to all communities.

“In addition, we have garnered a super majority of 81% in a referendum to condemn the racist statements of Professor Hill,” the students said.

“We commend Provost Ghanem for standing on the right side of history. We also extend our appreciation to every individual who has contributed in this campaign and hope you can continue with us in this ongoing effort to dismantling racism on campus.

“Although this is a great victory for the DePaul community and the fight against racism on campus, we recognize it is only a first step. We will continue to put pressure on the administration to fulfill our long term demands, such as ensuring racial sensitivity training. We hope the DePaul administration continues this commitment to protect and empower the DePaul community. Echoing Angela Davis’s powerful words, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change, I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

Here is Ghanam’s statement:

A Message from the Acting Provost on Free Speech and Vincentian Values

May 15, 2019

Difficult situations often times bring out the best and worst in us. The recent discussions on campus regarding the clash between free speech and Vincentian values made me even prouder to be part of the DePaul community. While I am deeply saddened that Professor Hill used his right to academic freedom and free speech to disparage one group over another, resulting in some members of our community feeling unwelcome and unsafe, I am extremely impressed by the way members of the DePaul community made their voices heard. I want to reiterate, Professor Hill’s views are his own and do not represent the views of the university. At DePaul, we value all individuals equally and are truly disheartened that a member of our own community asserts “Not all cultures are indeed equal. Some are abysmally inferior and regressive based on their comprehensive philosophy and fundamental principles—or lack thereof—that guide or fail to protect the inalienable rights of their citizens.”

I met with several students on Monday and was very impressed by their thoughtful comments and opinions on this issue. Our students outlined their concerns, provided arguments and engaged in a productive dialogue. They have also taken it upon themselves to organize and counter the views with which they disagree. Our faculty have and continue to address this situation with our students in a variety of forums. Our students and faculty have exemplified the best of what an intellectual dialogue at a university can look like.

Unfortunately, the article by Professor Hill has also brought out the other extreme and emboldened some to hide behind the cloak of social media anonymity and attack our students and faculty on the Internet. These hurtful attacks are cowardly and stand in stark contrast to civilized discourse. Intimidation is the tool of the weak both in spirit and in intellect.

We have a choice between the best and the worst, and I am confident that our Vincentian values will guide us to choose the right path.

Sincerely,

Salma Ghanem

Acting Provost

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.

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