We wrote about Kahane-supporter NY State Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s successful effort to get Brooklyn College to fire adjunct Middle East Studies professor Kristofer Petersen-Overton because a student didn’t like the syllabus for his course. Hikind also glanced at a sophisticated academic paper on Palestinian identity and decided that Petersen-Overton was somehow in favor of suicide bombers. This absurd charge was picked up by the right-wing echo chamber. Astonishingly, Brooklyn College administrators acquiesced and fired the young academic while clearly lying about it- they said he lacked proper credentials.
But now, just confirmed in a conversation with Petersen-Overton, they’ve reversed their decision and have rehired Petersen-Overton “unconditionally.” Apparently they’ve made an official statement though it hasn’t appeared in the media yet.
A palpably relieved Petersen-Overton told me it was the massive support from academics and others that made the difference:
“It was so inspiring, how many hundreds of people got involved. They denied it was politically motivated, but administrators know what happened…. They got many letters of support from international political scientists attesting to the rigor of my work..” It was the outcry, specifically from academics– who naturally don’t like McCarthyism when they see it– which made all the difference.
If tens of thousands of Tunisians and Egyptians can risk their lives to fight for freedom, certainly, risking much less, we can continue to rise up and fight bullying and McCarthyism when we see it. Mazel tov Petersen-Overton. Mazel tov academic freedom.
Cecilie Surasky, Jewish Voice for Peace
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