Dov Hikind is a bigot and a supporter of terrorism. He stood by 5 Jewish teenagers who severely beat a young Pakistani man with brass knuckles in a hate crime so heinous, it was condemned even by the Anti-Defamation League. He is a former follower of the terrorist group the Jewish Defense League and recently waxed nostalgic at the memorial of hate-monger Rabbi Meir Kahane whose Kach party-including the Kahane Chai spinoff-was banned, even in Israel, for racism and terrorism. He and his wife are working towards the Judaization of East Jerusalem and are doing their part to start a Holy War there by supporting the building of the Third Temple. He actually opposed the inclusion of non-Jews (there were some 5 million) in a memorial to those who died in the Holocaust and is an advocate of racial profiling.
Oh, and he said gay marriage would lead to more incest.
And, it must be said, he does all of this while wearing a kippah- he is an Orthodox Jew–which I personally find particularly galling.
(His archived press releases about Israel and the UN are pretty remarkable for a local state assemblyman.)
If he were a radical imam, he probably would have been booted out of town long ago. He’d certainly be on a number of watch lists, and for good reason. But instead, in a display of Jewish privilege, he enjoys a cushy job as a NY State Assemblyman.
In that position, he pulled a few strings the other day and this arbiter of morality (who was also caught up in a corruption scheme years ago) called Brooklyn College and asked them to boot a young scholar, named Kristofer Petersen-Overton (pictured left), for teaching a class on Middle East politics that apparently had too many books by Palestinians in it. At least, that’s why the case came to Hikind’s attention- a student complained about the syllabus. Brooklyn College’s president, Karen Lee Gould, was apparently happy to oblige and violate all basic standards of academic freedom and do the typical administrator thing when this happens–lie about it.
The New York Times reports:
Last fall, it was an assigned book that brought the Israeli-Palestinian conflict home to Brooklyn College. A wealthy alumnus said he was cutting the college out of his will because all incoming freshmen had been asked to read “How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America,” by Moustafa Bayoumi, a professor there.
This week, it was a course — a graduate seminar on Middle East politics scheduled for the spring semester. The focus of the dispute was the adjunct professor who had been appointed to teach it, a doctoral student whose writings raised hackles even before he set foot in the classroom.
On Thursday, the professor, Kristofer Petersen-Overton, said he had learned a day earlier that the college was rescinding his appointment, saying he lacked the academic qualifications to teach such a high-level course. But the timing of that decision has led Mr. Petersen-Overton and others to question whether the decisive factor might have been politics.
Earlier in the week, Dov Hikind, a Democratic state assemblyman from Brooklyn, wrote to the college president and to the chancellor of the City University of New York, which includes Brooklyn College, to express alarm about the “slanted nature” of the professor’s works.
The Times goes on:
Critics seem to have zeroed in on one of Mr. Petersen-Overton’s unpublished papers about the idea of martyrdom in Palestinian society. “They claim I romanticize suicide bombing even though I deal very little with the issue in the paper,” he said. “I absolutely condemn it, of course. They’re clearly heinous acts.”
A spokesman for Brooklyn College, Jeremy Thompson, said the provost had revoked the appointment because of concerns that Mr. Petersen-Overton did not have the academic credentials to teach a graduate-level seminar. The course was for students pursuing a master’s degree, and Mr. Petersen-Overton currently has a master’s himself.
But Huffington Post reports:
But professor Mark Ungar — who made the decision to hire Petersen-Overton — told Salon that many of the college’s graduate courses are taught by students still working towards a Ph.D. Along with 11 other faculty members, Ungar has formally objected to the provost’s decision to let Petersen-Overton go — a move he said “undermines academic freedom and departmental governance.”
SIGN THIS Petition to Defend Academic Freedom at Brooklyn College that outraged academics have put together. They’re demanding a formal apology and that Peterson-Overton be reinstated.
A statement on Peterson-Overton’s website says:
Mr. Petersen-Overton expressed concerns “that a state official would denounce my work so strongly without, apparently, having offered it more than a cursory reading. [Hikind’s] press release … is slander pure and simple.” Mr. Petersen-Overton emphasized that his work has little to do with suicide bombers and that Mr. Hikind deliberately twisted his conclusions to make it appear otherwise.
“I was not contacted by Brooklyn College administration at any time during their decision-making process. This politically motivated action undermines CUNY’s longstanding legacy as a stalwart defender of academic freedom,” Mr. Petersen-Overton said.
The allegations against Mr. Petersen-Overton center on time he spent in the Gaza Strip working for the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and on an unpublished scholarly paper that analyzes the symbolic place of martyrdom in Palestinian nationalism. Petersen-Overton’s detractors also took issue with the fact that, according to his personal website, he still maintains “close contact” with the Palestinian activist community.
Mr. Petersen-Overton’s academic work deals broadly with issues of identity formation in Israel and Palestine.
You can download his highly academic talk about Palestinian identity here, and below I have posted his class syllabus which reportedly started the whole debate when a student complained about it to Hikind. I’ve included the syllabus below. I think it looks fascinating and rigorous and recommend that Mr. Petersen-Overton offer the class online for a small fee. I suspect he’d make better money than most adjunct professors make these days– and in an environment where academic freedom actually means something.