Fordham prof investigated on ‘secret charges’ after opposing Israel boycott

Oct 15, 2014 by

Doron Ben-Atar is a history professor at Fordham University who in 2013 served on a steering committee that opposed the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israeli universities.

As such he “wrote emails, circulated articles” and “wanted Fordham’s program to sever official ties with the national organization until it rescinded the measure.”

Then, towards the end of the spring term, Ben-Atar received an email informing him that he “may have acted in an inappropriate way and possibly discriminated against another person at the University.”

Tablet Magazine reports:

The [American Studies] program’s director, Michelle McGee, in turn filed a complaint against me with the Title IX office, charging that I threatened to destroy the program. (As if I could? And what does this have to do with Title IX?) This spurious complaint (the meeting’s minutes demonstrated that I did not make such a threat) ushered me into a bruising summer that taught me much about my colleagues, the university, and the price I must be willing to pay for taking on the rising tide of anti-Zionism on American campuses.

The following Monday, Coleman appeared in my office to conduct her investigation. Alas, she refused to explain what I was accused of specifically or how what I supposedly did amounted to a Title IX violation. Remaining vague, she hinted that others, including perhaps Fordham College’s dean, who chaired the fateful meeting, supported the complaint. Who are the others, I asked? Is there anything beyond that supposed one sentence? She would not disclose. I told Coleman that I took the complaint very seriously, but at the advice of my attorney I needed to think things through.

Coleman never asked to meet me, and I assumed that the attempt to muzzle my opposition to the boycott died down. In late July, however, I received Coleman’s report in which she cleared me of the charge of religious discrimination. It was the first time that I learned what I was actually accused of doing, so I’m still not sure how opposing anti-Semitism amounts to religious discrimination. But Coleman was not satisfied to leave things at that. She went on to write that I refused to cooperate in the investigation (even though my attorney informed DeJulio weeks earlier of my willingness to meet her), and concluded that my decision to use an attorney was an indication of guilt. Coleman determined that in declaring I would quit the American Studies program should it not distance itself from anti-Semitism, I violated the university’s code of civility.

Again: Ben-Atar was charged with religious discrimination … because he was opposed to anti-Semitism.

You can’t make this up.

Fordham prof investigated on ‘secret charges’ after opposing Israel boycott.

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