Why is that statement hypocritical? On April 18, 2012, SJP members dressed up as Israeli soldiers and conducted a mock “Israeli Check Point” in the middle of the UCSD of campus. It was done to ”mock and ridicule” the kind of check points used by Israel in the West Bank to prevent terrorist attacks against civilians. Ironically, this demonstration occurred only four days after UCSD reached an agreement with the federal departments of Justice and Education in the aforementioned Compton Cookout investigation, after which the university promised to maintain an Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination that would receive, investigate and resolve such complaints.
As for The Guardian, it not only scrubbed the offending article from its website, it issued a retraction. In that retraction, we get to the gist of the controversy. “Cohen, who is Jewish, voted against the resolution to divest from companies involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; this undoubtedly plays into this issue, as he says that several people have linked the photo to his background and divestment.” The paper also gave Cohen the opportunity to write an editorial rebuttal.
He minced no words in explaining the motivation behind the original article. “This is clearly a politically motivated attack since I voted against divesting from Israel. Many Council Members accusing me of being racist and demanding for me to be ‘held accountable,’ referenced my vote against divestment. Their libelous accusations are meant to silence my voice. I will not be bullied into silence.”
Tellingly, despite both this retraction and the above video evidence demonstrating that accusations against both men were nothing more than trumped up charges, none of the students involved in either incident have been held responsible in any way for their actions. Furthermore, in an ugly display of bias, a letter condemning the actions of ”a faculty member” who “verbally harassed a student outside of the 4th floor Forum” remains posted on a website sponsored by the San Diego Faculty Association (SDFA), despite Mr. Dubnov’s exoneration. It is signed by Ivan Evans, President; Luis Martin-Cabrera, Vice-President; Adam Burgasser, Jody Blanco, Yen Le Espiritu, Tara Knight, Jin-Kyung Lee and Rosaura Sanchez.
Furthermore, an email received by Front Page signed by Evans and dated March 10, 2012 reveals that the SDFA “st[ood] behind its statement,” which was released prior to any investigation by the administration. In other words, Evans, and the other SDFA members who signed the letter, were more than willing to accept the now-discredited version of the fairy tale spun by the SJP before the facts were known.
Despite his ordeal, Ashton Shahyad Cohen remains optimistic. The senior, who is headed to law school after graduation, closed his rebuttal editorial with the idea that students and faculty at UCSD, “must all maintain a firm commitment to engage in respectful dialogue and put our cultural differences aside.” That’s a wonderful sentiment. Unfortunately, as long as false accusations made by students and supported by faculty members remain beyond reprisal, respectful dialogue and the commitment to put cultural — or more accurately, ideological — differences aside is likely to remain a pipe dream. As for professor Dubnov, the effort by SJP students to smear his name, as well as the continuing effort by SDFA professors to keep that smear alive, is shameful.
UCSD may have an Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination. But until they address the issues outlined here, it remains one in name only.
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