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D.U.’s Throwing Dr. Nader Hashemi “Under The Bus” – Goes National. Major story in MondoWeiss.

May 2, 2023

University of Denver criticized for violating Middle East scholar’s academic freedom

Dr. Nader Hashemi says the University of Denver blindly accepted Israel lobby accusations against him without due process. The AAUP agrees and says the university violated his academic freedom.

Earlier this year, Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch for almost 30 years, agreed to be considered for a fellowship at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government but had the fellowship rescinded over his criticism of Israel. Days later, following widespread criticism, Harvard reversed the decision and claimed it had not been influenced by donors or Roth’s criticism of Israel.

Now, the University of Denver (DU) is embroiled in a similar controversy.

In August 2022, near the end of a podcast interview, Dr. Nader Hashemi, then Director of the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies at the Korbel School of International Studies, was asked to speculate about possible motives behind Hadi Matar’s attempt on Salman Rushdie’s life. Against the background of the controversial Iran nuclear deal, Hashemi, a political theorist with impeccable credentials, offered three possibilities that might account for Matar’s vicious attack: that he might have been self-radicalized via the internet; that the Islamic Republic of Iran, never having revoked its fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death, might have prompted Matar; and that Israel’s Mossad might have been behind the attack as a false flag operation to derail US-Iran negotiations. All were reasonable speculations on the part of a Middle East scholar. But a coalition of Israel lobby organizations used Hashemi’s mention of Mossad to mount a vicious attack on his character.

Leaders of six Colorado Jewish organizations—Mountain States Anti-Defamation League, Hillel of Colorado, JEWISHColorado, Jewish Community Relations Council, Rocky Mountain Rabbis and Cantors, and Mountain States American Jewish Committee—released a statement demanding that the University of Denver “condemn Professor Hashemi’s statement which is damaging rhetoric masquerading as a legitimate opinion” and charging that “such statements put our Jewish students…at further risk.” The American Jewish Committee added to the frenzy, charging that his statement “echoes ancient blood libels and reeks of antisemitism.”

Hashemi received hate mail and death threats. He was accused of being a terrorist, an antisemite, an enemy of Western civilization, and a threat to the United States’ national security.

On his Twitter account, CNN’s Jake Tapper posted a photo of Hashemi, accusing him of being a “pro-Iranian regime academic” and spreading a “vile form of Jew-hatred hiding behind anti-Israel comments.” Members of the Republican Study Committee in Congress, including Colorado representative Doug Lamborn, appeared to use the incident to open an investigation of so-called “pro-Iranian bias on U.S. college campuses.”

Just today, the David Horowitz Freedom Center announced that “in a stealth campaign to circumvent censors and reach students,” it had distributed 2,500 copies of its newspaper, Front Page Magazine, across the campus of the university. Featured in the paper is an April 23 article charging that Professor Hashemi is one of the “Top Ten Jew-Hating Professors in America.” According to an email from the Horowitz Center, should the universities named in the article “fail to take action against faculty who continue to promulgate anti-Semitism on campus… we urge Congress to withhold all federal funding until they eliminate this cancer in their midst.”

The university condemned the Horowitz Center’s actions and said in a statement to Mondoweiss, “We are deeply troubled by the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s publication and mischaracterization of Nader Hashemi. We condemn the publication’s claims and have offered Professor Hashemi our support.”

The university condemned the Horowitz Center’s actions and said in a statement to Mondoweiss, “We are deeply troubled by the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s publication and mischaracterization of Nader Hashemi. We condemn the publication’s claims and have offered Professor Hashemi our support.”

Senior university officials privately told Hashemi that the university was heavily lobbied by outside pro-Israel organizations regarding his comments on the podcast. Shortly after, DU officials issued the following statement without first having a conversation with him.

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 his 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.

Hashemi has charged that the university’s statement “falsely and unjustly condemned me contributed to this climate of intimidation and harassment and persecution.” Twice, he met in person with the chancellor and provost to request that they issue a corrective statement that would clear his name and affirm his good standing in the university. Twice, he was refused.

In an April 10 panel discussion held on the DU campus, Hashemi said, “It soon became clear to me that top officials of this university had accepted, as a point of departure, a moral framework of analysis of this crisis shaped by my outside accusers: that allegedly I had a problem with Jews, that I was a threat to Jewish students on campus and that the onus was on me to demonstrate that the accusations of antisemitism were false.”

“Given the nature, the depth and breadth of this scandal,” Hashemi said, “I’m calling for an independent and transparent investigation…. Talk to the key players in this drama, subpoena witnesses, examine the factual and documentary record and then issue a report…. I firmly believe that the documentary record will clearly reveal that senior leaders of this university are guilty of the abuse of power, conspiracy, blatant discrimination and the egregious violation of academic freedom.”

The DU chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) issued a statement expressing support for Hashemi. Chapter president Aaron Schneider wrote, “Professor Hashemi has been a leader on campus in combating rising anti-Semitism. As Director of the Center for Middle East Studies, he has organized five events on countering rising anti-Semitism and he has organized over a dozen events with local Jewish organizations.”

“It is worth mentioning,” the letter continued, “that the one academic body that has reviewed this controversy related to Professor Hashemi and issued a judgment is the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), a national organization of Middle East scholars. MESA has called for the University of Denver to retract its statement and issue an apology.”

“What Dr. Nader Hashemi, director of the university’s Center for Middle East Studies, was subjected to was a violation of his academic freedom, a violation of any notion of due process,” wrote Schneider. “The issue at hand was not anti-Semitism but Israeli government policy.”

Schneider said that Hashemi was subjected to “a violation of his academic freedom, a violation of any notion of due process,” and likened his case to that of Roth at Harvard, pointing to both men being attacked “after similar accusations of bias were directed against [them]. In both cases, Schneider wrote, “the issue at hand was not anti-Semitism but Israeli government policy.”

Turning, then, to the actions of the university, on behalf of the DU AAUP, Schneider questioned why the university didn’t consult with Hashemi or turn to its own governance body, the Freedom of Expression Committee, that is charged to “review incidents where freedom of expression has allegedly been unjustifiably curtailed or that expression has been practiced in ways that diminish or conflict with other DU values.”

The fact that the University of Denver administrators quickly issued a statement exposing Hashemi to further attempts to silence him and debase his character—and noting that administrators failed to initiate a proper investigation and have since refused to even issue a corrective statement—raises several questions related to growing attacks on academics who express their opinions on the situation in Palestine/Israel and Israeli government policy and practices. Among them, how will the principles of academic freedom and due process be exercised on university campuses when it comes to statements critical of the State of Israel, and what will the role of Israel lobby organizations be in deciding this?

Professor Nader Hashemi, citing a toxic work environment created by the Chancellor and Provost, has accepted a post at a more prestigious university.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Barbara Millman permalink
    May 2, 2023 8:33 pm

    Well this is really sick.  

    If you want local press, I have ideas.  


    div>Will th

    • May 2, 2023 8:34 pm

      Always welcome ideas Barbara

      • Barbara Millman permalink
        May 2, 2023 8:46 pm

        I already sent you some ideas 




        div>I think the Chronically

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