Cancer of Academic Freedom Destruction Now at U.C.-Santa Barbara

From: Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB

Dear colleagues,

UCSB has become the latest front in the war against Academic Freedom. Professor William I. Robinson, a Sociology and Global Studies professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has been attacked by the Anti-Defamation League and two of his former students. In January of this year, he forwarded an email condemning the Israeli attacks on Gaza. The email contained an editorial by a Jewish journalist condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza as well as juxtaposed images of Nazi atrocities with congruent images of Israeli atrocities against Palestinians. The email was an optional read for students, intended to spark conversation by relating contemporary events to conceptual ideas discussed in class.

One week later, the ADL wrote him a letter charging him with anti- Semitism and sundry violations of the Faculty Code of Conduct (none of which were coherent claims). Another week passed, and the Academic Senate Charges Officer then notified him that two of the students in the class to which he circulated the email had filed complaints against him

The complaints are that 1) critique of Israel is evidence of anti- Semitism and 2) the Israeli-Palestinian issue should not be discussed in a class on Globalization.

This case has already escalated way too far. Throughout the process, the Charges Officer violated several elements of the charges procedure, shirked his responsibilities, and ultimately acted as a co-complainant by fabricating charges that were not raised by the students. The charges have reached the Committee on Committees, which is now in the process of convening an ad hoc Charges Committee to assess the complaints against Professor Robinson
Based on patently absurd and malicious claims, the charges should have been dismissed out of hand from the beginning.

Further consideration of the charges by the Academic Senate serves only to sanction politically-motivated attacks on academic freedom. The longer this case is pursued, the worse its chilling effect; it will spread fear among those who wish to present controversial and critical subjects. Even though the original complaint is regarding Israel/Palestine, the rights at stake extend beyond this specific topic. Academic freedom is a right that enables scholars to express diverse perspectives over contentious topics, free from the intimidation of political repression campaigns.

If the case against Professor Robinson continues to go forward, it will lead down a slippery slope that may expose academics to repression tactics for addressing controversial issues such as stem cell research, evolution, feminism, LGBT rights, etc. It is incumbent upon members of the UCSB campus and the broader academy to roundly oppose this silencing campaign.

This is an obvious attack on Professor Robinson”s academic freedom, one that ominously recalls similar campaigns against other critics of Israel across the nation. This is part of a broader campaign to automatically vilify and attack any and all critiques of Israel’s policies and practices through unfounded use of the term “anti-Semitic.” A critique of the Israeli state, its policies, and the leaders responsible is not and should not be considered an affront to Jewish people as a collective, the Jewish religion, or Jewish heritage.


In fact, conflating the state of Israel with the Jewish people essentializes the assorted political opinions of a diverse religious group by reducing them to the set of policies espoused by the prevailing regime.
We need your help! Please scroll below and follow the instructions to 1) email the UCSB Chancellor and responsible authorities on campus to express your outrage and register your protest, and 2) sign the petition
Please visit our website for more information on the case, including continuing updates, at:

If you wish to contact the student campaign, please email:

Thank you for your time, Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UC Santa Barbara


Send an Email: The e-mail should be addressed to UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang and cc’d to the following faculty and administrators involved in the case. Please copy and paste the addresses

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