Menu JTA Search

University President Condemns Course by Professor Which Taught That Zionism Equals Racism

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

The president of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, John Marburger, has termed as “morally abhorrent” the teachings of a professor that equated Zionism with racism, and has firmly disassociated the school’s administration from the views expressed in the course. “The Stony Brook administration absolutely divorces itself from any view that links Zionism with racism or Nazism,” Marburger said in a statement issued yesterday, a day after he met with 35 representatives of Jewish organizations. “Furthermore, I personally find such linkages morally abhorrent. “

Marburger also announced the formation of a committee to “review courses of racial, ethnic, and religious sensitivity to insure the proper balance in presentation between academic freedom and academic responsibility.” The committee will be chaired by Nobel Laureate C. N. Yang, according to a university spokesman.

The controversy at the university which erupted three months ago focused on the views of South African born Prof. Ernest Dube in a summer course on “The Politics of Racism.” A faculty investigation was launched into his teachings after Selwyn Troen, a visiting professor from the Ben Gurion University in the Negev, sent a letter to the university asserting that Dube “employed his position for the propagation of personal ideology and racial biases.” Troen has since returned to Israel.

JEWISH GROUPS GRATIFIED WITH MARBURGER’S RESPONSE

The Conference of Jewish Organizations of Nassau County (Long Island), an umbrella group composed of virtually the entire organized Jewish community in the area, which helped in arranging the meeting between the Jewish leaders and Marburger, said in a statement that it was “gratified” with Marburger’s “candid and statesmanlike response to the community concerns.” It added that with Marburger’s statement, the university administration “has committed itself to a series of measures that we are hopeful will address and prevent similar situations.”

Rabbi Arthur Seltzer, the Long Island regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, said the ADL was gratified that the university has “forthrightly disassociated itself from Professor Dube’s repugnant equation and has committed itself to internal procedures to prevent any future injection of racist and anti-Semitic teachings at Stony Brook.”

Phil Baum, associate executive director of the American Jewish Congress, commended Marburger for responding “with sensitivity and understanding” to the Jewish community’s concern over Dube’s course.

CALLS FOR CLOSER TIES WITH JEWISH COMMUNITY

Marburger said the review of the courses taught at the university would be aimed at achieving what he called a “higher degree of understanding of behavior likely to be offensive to one or another of our constituencies.” He called for more “positive and closer ties” with members of the Jewish community, according to the ADL.

The university official also rejected claims that a pattern of anti-Semitic behavior has developed on the Stony Brook campus as a result of the Dube case, the publication of a controversial poem in a student magazine and cuts in funding for the campus Hillel organization. “They are anomalies, not the norm for our campus,” he said in the statement.

In August, Governor Mario Cuomo issued a denunciation of the faculty’s failure to openly oppose the teaching of Dube, and said his course was “intellectually dishonest and pernicious because it is designed to serve as a justification for genocide in the form of a completion of the ‘final solution’ through annihilation of the State of Israel.”

NEXT STORY