PHILADELPHIA (JTA) — Pressure is mounting on a state-funded university in Pennsylvania to repudiate the views of a professor who has called for the destruction of Israel and promoted denial of the Holocaust.
The administration of Lincoln University, a historically black college in Chester County, has stood by Pakistani-born Kaukab Siddique, a tenured literature professor, and affirmed the right of faculty members to express their views outside of the classroom and away from campus no matter how controversial the subject matter, the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia reported.
Two Pennsylvania state senators have scheduled a meeting Oct. 28 with university President Ivory Nelson to urge that he condemn Siddique’s rhetoric. Also this week, several Jewish advocacy organizations in the region were planning to meet and devise a coordinated response plan, according to the newspaper.
Siddique made headlines last week with a Labor Day speech that was posted by www.investigativeproject.org and reported by the Christian Broadcasting Network.
In the footage, Siddique tells a crowd at an anti-Israel rally in Washington that “We must stand united to defeat, to destroy, to dismantle Israel — if possible by peaceful means.” He also refers to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a “Zionist plot.”
State Sen. Anthony Williams, an African-American lawmaker from Philadelphia, said he is seeking the repudiation because the university was created as a response to prejudice, not to help perpetuate it.
Siddique, who also heads a Baltimore-based organization that promotes anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, told Inside Higher Ed this week that this was an issue of academic freedom. He also warned against universities being intimidated by politicians and outside commentators.
“That’s freedom of expression going up the smokestack here,” he was quoted as saying.