NEW YORK (Aug. 13)
An official of the Suffolk, Long Island, division of the American Jewish Congress praised today the decision of the State University at Stony Brook to deny tenure to Professor Ernest Dube, who teaches that Zionism is equated with racism, and said the division had decided to combat Dube’s teachings with a corrective guidebook.
Steven Israel, director of the division office in Commack, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a telephone interview that, though the university had denied Dube tenure, Dube had indicated he would teach two more semesters under his contract.
Israel said the furor erupting within the Jewish community over Dube’s teachings, including a denunciation by Governor Mario Cuomo, apparently had not changed Dube’s approach and that the division expected Dube to teach his “myths” about Zionism when he resumes his course on “The Politics of Race” when the academic year begins September 3.
Dube, 56, a South African-born professor in the university’s African Studies Department, indicated he had been informed of the tenure denial decision on August 2, based on a vote of support for granting of tenure by two faculty members but a rejection by the humanities dean, the university provost, and John Marburger, the university president.
BACKGROUND OF THE CONTROVERSY
The controversy began in the summer of 1983 when Selwyn Troen, a visiting professor from Ben Gurion University in the Negev, sent a letter to the university, accusing Dube of teaching “personal ideology and racial biases.”
A faculty committee eventually cleared Dube of charges that his teachings violated academic ethics, but the decision failed to satisfy Dube’s critics. The issue was revived this year when the university began tenure deliberations on Dube, ending with the decision to deny him tenure.
Israel told the JTA that he and Lawrence Epstein, president of the Suffolk AJCongress and head of the English division at Suffolk Community College, prepared the eight-page printed guidebook, ordering 500 copies.
In a formal statement, the division said that, in a “myths and facts” format, the publication was designed to “correct the distortion and inaccuracies commonly made about Zionism, some of which are contained in Professor Dube’s public lectures and writings.” Israel said the publication is also being offered as “an alternative reading lesson for students” enrolled in the Dube course.
Stressing that the AJCongress deliberately remained uninvolved in the tenure dispute out of respect for the principle of academic freedom, Israel said the division’s lay leadership had decided, after some internal debate, not to ask the university to ask Dube to refrain from teaching his controversial course, again out of respect for academic freedom.
Israel said the decision to act, “within the context of academic freedom,” was to prepare a guidebook. It is entitled AFS 319, the title of the disputed course, “Supplementary Course Material.”
Asked how the copies of the guide would be distributed, Israel said the publication will be advertised in the university student newspaper, offering it either at the university Hillel office, which is to receive 200 copies; or at the American Jewish Congress’ regional office.