US University defends anti-Israel incitement taught in classrooms

Several students who support Israel have experienced significant hostility from instructors and professors at UNC, but have not come publicly forward out of fear for their academic standing.

By Peter Reitzes, The Algemeiner

On August 3, I reported that this coming Fall, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) will offer a recurring course titled “The Conflict over Israel/Palestine,” taught by PhD student Kylie Broderick.

Broderick promotes the view that Israel should not exist, has publicly demanded that “everyone at UNC … boycott Israeli products,” and believes students should be taught to reject Zionism.

Broderick urges graduate students to “speak the f*** up” against what she calls the “ethnic cleansing” of “Palestine,” and declared that a student who failed to do so is a “coward.”

Broderick has publicly stated that boycotting Israel is “the only choice” and expects “university Middle East academic programs and centers” to issue “solidarity statements” with Palestinians.

But despite Broderick’s clear anti-Israel bias, the university is defending its decision to have her teach a class on the topic this Fall.

On August 3, Voice4Israel of North Carolina launched a campaign asking “UNC to stop the anti-Israeli hostility and intolerance.” Many Jewish leaders and community members responded with strong letters of concern to UNC, with some arranging meetings with university officials.

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Marion Robboy, a member of the UNC Board of Advisors to the University’s Center for Jewish Studies, wrote to 15 university leaders: “Broderick’s very public anti-Israel positions — including her demand that all of UNC engage in a boycott of Israel — will make it exceedingly difficult if not impossible to have open and fair classroom discussions … UNC cannot have students, when expressing their opinions, worry that the teacher’s hostility directed at them may well affect their grades.”

On August 6, North Carolina Hillel issued a statement on Broderick’s class, stating, “We fear that students who support and have a connection with Israel will be unwelcome or unsafe in this class, impinging on their academic freedom.”

Several students who support Israel have also recently experienced significant hostility from instructors and professors at UNC, but have not come publicly forward out of fear for their academic standing.

Furthermore, this anti-Israel teaching scandal has arisen while UNC is still reeling from its 2019 anti-Semitism scandal.

In 2019, UNC hosted and co-sponsored the “Conflict Over Gaza” conference, which made international news for featuring a rapper’s anti-Semitic performance. In response to an anti-Semitism complaint filed with the US Department of Education (DOE) stemming from this conference, UNC entered into a Resolution Agreement with the DOE, promising to address anti-Semitism.

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The DOE’s Office for Civil Rights informed UNC, “The Agreement requires the University…to take all steps reasonably designed to ensure that students enrolled in the University are not subjected to a hostile environment.”

Kylie Broderick publicly dismissed this Resolution Agreement in a local paper, calling it an “attack by the federal government.” Yet UNC still chose Broderick to teach university students this fall about Israel.

This is a clear signal that UNC simply does not take the Resolution Agreement it signed seriously.

In addition to teaching UNC students about Israel, Broderick is slated to be a Fall instructor for a course focused on educating K-12 teachers on “Understanding the Modern Middle East.” The course — offered by the National Humanities Center — is “designed with the generous support” of UNC.

Earlier in 2021, UNC proudly promoted that Broderick will be teaching this course.

On Friday, August 6, UNC Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz dismissed concerns raised by Jewish leaders and community members, via an email, saying that he is “confident” that students enrolled in Broderick’s class “will benefit from a thoughtful presentation of information relevant to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.”

In contradiction to its obligations under the Resolution Agreement, UNC is actively enabling hostility towards Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus. And UNC will now export its anti-Israel hostility to elementary, middle, and high school teacher training.

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Peter Reitzes is a board member of Voice4Israel of North Carolina and writes about issues related to anti-Semitism and Israel.