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 UK. 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:
Fundamentalist extremists also resent the fact the United States helps Israel target Islamic civilians. . . . Now that our attention is on the attacks, it’s giving license to the Israelis to shoot at will.
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:
In 2007, two of our Hillel students, on their own and not representing Hillel, made a couple of 2×3 posters and held them on the sidewalk, perhaps thirty feet away from their wall on our Dexter Lawn area. When she came in and saw them, she called the police to come and remove the students! The police responded, but told the students to walk with the signs, not plant them in the lawn. Complaints to the university about violations of free speech drew no response.
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. may soon begin promoting boycotting and divesting from the Jewish state.
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. He wrote this article for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.
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