Jewish Journal


April 27, 2009

Santa Barbara professor compared Israelis to Nazis



Parallel images from UCSB professor William Robinson

I’ve never heard students complain of anti-Israel sentiments at UC Santa Barbara. That’s the reputation of UC Irvine and, to a lesser extent, Berkeley. But I just received an e-mail, which included a link to the video seen after the jump, forwarding an e-mail from William I. Robinson, a USCB sociology professor. The contents of that e-mail, which Robinson reportedly sent to students on Martin Luther King Day and ran under the heading “Parallel images of Nazis and Israelis,” included 42 side-by-side photos (like the one at left) that have made Robinson the focus of an academic investigation.

Here’s a portion of what he allegedly wrote:

I am forwarding some horrific, parallel images of Nazi atrocities against the Jews and Israeli atrocities against thePalestinians.  Perhaps the most frightening are not those providing a graphic depiction of the carnage but that which shows Israeli children writing “with love” on a bomb that will tear apart Palestinian children.

Gaza is Israel’s Warsaw - a vast concentration camp that confined and blockaded Palestinians, subjecting them to the slow death of malnutrition, disease and despair, nearly two years before their subjection to the quick death of Israeli bombs.  We are witness to a slow-motion process of genocide (Websters: “the systematic killing of, or a program of action intended to destroy, a whole national or ethnic group”), a process whose objective is not so much to physically eliminate each and every Palestinian than to eliminate the Palestinians as a people in any meaningful sense of the notion of people-hood.

Comparing Israelis to Nazis is nothing new. Criticism of Israel’s onslaught, particularly its intensity, on Gaza was arguably deserving. But the Zio-Nazi association is a strawman, typically reserved for rhetorical extremists, the Arab press and British MPs who lost family in the Holocaust.

According to KEYT, Robinson claims the complaint, initiated by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the two students who contacted the L.A.-based human-rights and Jewish-defense organization, is an attack on his academic freedom.

Robinson may have a point there. Tenure and academic freedom provide professors with a lot of latitude—less so for Ward “Little Eichmanns” Churchill than Kevin “The Foremost Anti-Semitic Thinker” MacDonald. And far worse things were said by professors at a UCLA symposium in January. As a refresher, here is what Tom Tugend reported then:

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