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DearProvostMarlin, September16,2013 WearewritingoutofconcernforacademicfreedomontheSanDiegoStateUniversitycampus.

DearProvostMarlin,

September16,2013

WearewritingoutofconcernforacademicfreedomontheSanDiegoStateUniversitycampus.

Asstudents,weexpectthatourprofessorswillnotbesubjecttocensorshiporhavetheirfreedom

ofexpressionviolated.IthascometoourattentionthatoneSDSUlecturer,GhassanZakaria,was

forcedtochangethelabelonamaphepresentedtohisclassinordertosatisfytheconcernsofa

singleSDSUstudentandoneoff­campuspoliticalorganization,StandWithUs,whichhasnorole

onourcampusandhasnobusinessrepresentingusasstudents.

ProfessorZakariaisawonderfulprofessorwhoiscarefulnottolethispersonalopinionsspillover

intowhatheteachesinhisclasses.Accordingtoalargenumberofhisstudents,hismannerof

teachingisinclusiveofallbackgrounds,andpoliticsisleftoutinthislinguisticscourse.

That beingsaid,itisperfectlyreasonablethatwhileteachingaclassonArabiclanguageand culture,LecturerGhassanZakariawouldincludeaviewoftheMiddleEastandNorthAfrica alignedwiththeperspectiveofmostArabicspeakers.IthappensthatmanyintheArabic­speaking world do not recognize the state of Israel, but instead understand the region to be historic Palestine.IfoneoftheaimsofsuchclassesistounderstandhowArabicspeakersthemselvesview theregion,thismapwillaidstudentsinthatunderstanding.Infact,Mr.Zakariwouldberemissifhe didnotincludethisperspective.Mr.Zakaria’spersonalandpoliticalopinions,whatevertheymay be,areirrelevantandshouldnothaveanybearingonhowheistreatedasanemployeeofthe university,andasanacademic. Hisrighttofreespeechshouldnotbeinfringeduponorcensored inanyway.

WehopeyouwillagreethatitwouldbeshamefultothinkthatStandWithUs,andasmallnumber

ofstudentscouldjeopardizeaprofessor’sentirecareersimplybecauseheexercisedhisrightto

portraythevalidpoliticalopinionofmillionsofpeopletohisclass.

Therearecountlessmapsintheuniversity’sbooksandclassroomsthatlabeltheregionsolelyas “Israel,”whichisnotonlycompletelyinaccurate,butalsoveryoffensive. Thesemapslabelthe

entireareaas“Israel”withouteventheslightestmentionofEastJerusalem,theWestBank,orthe

Gazastrip­whicheventhestateofIsraelrecognizesasPalestinianterritories.Palestine/Israelisnot

theonlyregioninwhichlandandnamingarecontroversial.ThesituationsofTibetans,Kurdsand

WesternSaharansareafewinstancesthatshouldbefamiliartostudents.WehopeallintheSDSU

communitywilltakethisopportunitytolearnmoreabouttheissue.

Additionally,weabsolutelyrejectallattemptstoconflateZionism(aracistpoliticalideology)with JudaismortheJewishpeople.TherearemanyJewsaroundtheworldwhoopposeZionism, includinghereatSDSU,andwhodonotfeelthattheirpoliticalopinionsareincludedintheZionist depiction of Jews as unquestioningly aligned with the state of Israel. Such a cynical politically­motivatedstereotypeexcludesandsilencespro­PalestinianJewsandisinitselfoffensive.

Finally,anyattempttotarnishprofessorZakaria’sreputationasaprofessorwithfantasticacademic

credentialsisapurelypoliticalanduninformedactofslanderthatshouldnotbeacceptableonour

campus.Weasadiversegroupofstudentsarenotrepresentedbythisnarrow­mindedopinionand

askthattheuniversitytakenoteofthewidesupportthatprofessorZakariahasreceivedfromhis

studentsandfromtheSanDiegoStatecommunityingeneral.

Sincerely,

StudentsforJusticeinPalestine,SDSU

AmnestyInternational,SDSU

ArabStudentAssociation,SDSU

MovimientoEstudiantilChicano/adeAztlán,SDSU

AfrikanStudentUnion,SDSU

AssociationofChicanaActivists,SDSU

MuslimStudentAssociation,SDSU

StudentsoftheWorld,SDSU

InternationalSocialistOrganization,SDSU

StudentsforJusticeinPalestine,UCSD

Al­AwdaFoundation,SanDiego

StudentsforJusticeinPalestine,CSULB

StudentsforJusticeinPalestine,CSUF

StudentsforJusticeinPalestine,UCLA

MuslimStudentAssociation,CSUSB

StudentsforJusticeinPalestine,UCSB

StudentsforJusticeinPalestine,UCD

StudentsforJusticeinPalestine,UCR

MuslimStudentAssociation,UCR

GeneralUnionofPalestineStudents,SFSU