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University of Denver, which likes to boast of “celebrating diversity” throws Dr. Nader Hashemi, Director of the university’s Center for Middle East Studies, under the bus. The beginning of a witch hunt?

August 28, 2022

University of Denver Campus – Fall, 2013. In the fall when the campus is quite lovely. (R. Prince photo) 

A casual remark taken out of context…

An August 20, 2022 podcast interview with University of Denver’s Dr. Nader Hashemi on what for Americans is an obscure website, “The Iran Podcast by Negar Mortazavi” has trigger a storm of protest from Zionist sources both in Israel  and in the United States that includes a statement from the University of Denver essentially “throwing Hashemi under the bus” and undermining faculty freedom of speech. Very possibly all this is only the first step in targeting Hashemi and the Center for Middle East Studies which he has headed up at D.U.’s Korbel School of International Studies for more than a decade. It is worthwhile to listen to the said podcast to appreciate the degree to which the Jerusalem Post and the leaders of Denver’s Jewish Community have made “a mountain out of a mole hole”, “a tempest in a teacup”, “much to do about nothing”, etc. Still, don’t underestimate how this could spill out of control into something approaching yet another intellectual lynching of the kind that is becoming more and more common these days.

The heart of the matter in this case is academic freedom, the attempts to limit it and the effort on the part of the University to respect and defend one of their own.

Is the targeting Dr. Hashemi and D.U.’s Center for Middle East Studies a part of a broader attack, the second wave of targeting Middle East Studies programs nationwide that intensified after the September 11, 2001 attacks? It would appear so as in a few days, nay, 24 hours Hashemi’s remarks, grossly taken out of context, have triggered what appears to be a coordinated international response. A Jerusalem Post article “Mossad likely on behind Salman Rushdie stabbing, claims Denver professor” on August 23, was the opening salvo followed by a statement expressing “anger” and being “appalled” by leaders of Colorado’s mainstream Jewish Establishment. Rather than defending one of its key faculty members right to free speech, the University of Denver, which for decades has claimed to “celebrate diversity”, issued a statement (part of which is reported on this link) distancing itself from Hashemi, more or less throwing Hashemi under the bus. The accusations against Hashemi were also immediately published in Campus Watch,the twenty year old McCarthyite anti-Islamic organization that witch hunts Palestinian supporters and academics in U.S. universities.

It should not be surprising if this contrived controversy does not spill over into the mainstream media, but here in Colorado and nationwide in the days and weeks to come.

Initial Documents:

The Iran Podcast by Negar Mortazavi – Salman Rushdie and Iran – August 20, 2022 – Recommend listening to the entire interview to see the degree to which the Jerusalem Post and the leaders of Denver’s Jewish Community have made “a mountain out of a mole hole”, “a tempest in a tea cup”, “much to do about nothing”, etc.

Jerusalem Post – August 23, 2022 – Mossad likely behind Salman Rushdi stabbling, claims Denver professor.

Nader Hashemi: The University of Denver’s Statement (see below)

Campus Watch : University of Denver Professor Blames Israel for Rushdie Attack. August 24, 2022. (Note: What is “Campus Watch” ? Palestinian response. Note that the date on this Electronic Intifada article is from 2002, ie, this kind of McCarthyite nonsense has been going on for a very long time.

Hillel Press Statement “Press Statement on Comments by Nader Hashemi” – August 25, 2022

DU Middle Eastern Scholar under fire for comments on Rushdie stabbing believes he’s become a political target. Denver Gazette. August 26, 2022

Republican Leaders Vow to Investigate U.S. Colleges for Pro-Iran Bias After Prof. Claims Israel Behind Rushdie Attack – University of Denver facing GOP fire after professor claims Mossad could have been behind Rushdie Stabbing. August 26, 2022

Republicans Eye Pro-Iran Propaganda in US Colleges After Prof Claims Israel Behind Rushdie Attack. August 26, 2022

Nader Hashemi: An Iran Puppet in Denver August 27, 2022. A particularly scurrilous piece; the kind of thing floating around social media, conflating anti-Zionism (which is anti-racist) with anti-Semitism, old, worn out, invalid comparison

Colorado Jewish leaders call out DU professor’s remarks on Salman Rushdie stabbing Denver Post August 29, 2022

Jewish Community Statement About Scapegoating by University of Denver Professor. August 30, 2022

Middle East Studies Association. Committee on Academic Freedom. University of Denver Statement about Professor Nader Hashemi

Krista Kafer. Free Speech Under Attack, This Time At DU. Denver Post. September 4, 2022

Thrashed for Theorizing: Notes on Anti-Semitism, Israel and the Attack on Salman Rushdie. September 9, 2022


University of Denver Statement 

This week, the University of Denver, my (Nader Hashemi’s) home institution, published the following statement about me after I gave an interview about the heinous attack on Salman Rushdie:

Professor Hashemi spoke as an individual faculty member and does not speak for the University. While we wholeheartedly respect academic freedom and freedom of speech, his comments do not reflect the point of view of the university, nor are we aware of any facts that support this view. The safety of every speaker and every student on our campus, and all campuses, is critical to our society. We condemn the stabbing of Salman Rushdie. And it goes without saying that we remain committed to assuring that the experience of our Jewish students, faculty and staff is safe, supportive, respectful, and welcoming.

How’s that for supporting a faculty member’s free speech rights?


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