Academic and support staff at California State University, Fresno, have made antisemitic comments alleging that Jewish staff members obstructed the hiring of a Middle Eastern academic.
CSUF were in the process of hiring a staff member to fill a Professorship named after Edward Said, an academic of Palestinian origin who was a pioneer in Postcolonial theory and who wrote critically of Zionism and Israel. Last year, the search was narrowed to four applicants of Middle Eastern heritage, none of whom were offered the positions.
Allegations emerged among CSUF staff that none were hired due to interference from Jewish faculty. Joe Parks, responsible for equal opportunities on the hiring committee, claimed that “the search was cancelled because when the finalists came to campus, the Jewish faculty complained”, elsewhere claiming that the “Jewish community was responsible”.
A dean of the School, Vida Samiian, claiming that “the administration carried out the vicious and discriminatory attacks launched by Israel advocacy groups against the search committee and the four finalists who were of Middle Eastern and Palestinian ethnicity”, going on to single out Canary Mission. Despite these comments, no evidence has been offered, nor is any apparent, that any pro-Israel groups were involved in the decision at all. Samiian has a long record of anti-Israel activism, which has included inviting the incendiary historian Ilan Pappé to speak at the campus.
Dozens academics from across the United States seemed to jump on this bangwagon, signing a petition, in the form of a letter from faculty members, which claimed that “Israel advocacy groups launched a campaign to cancel the search altogether” and that the process had been influenced by “discriminatory agendas”. This is the language of the antisemitic canard which paints Jews as dissembling and using their influence to subvert processes in their own favour, despite the clear lack of evidence for such a claim. An archived version of this petition, including its signatories, can be viewed here.
Despite the claims of interference from Jewish faculty and groups, senior staff at the University have denied this, citing procedural improprieties for the decision not to hire anyone. Senior staff also explicitly stated that no external groups were allowed to influence the decision.
The idea that Jews or Jewish groups are behind the scenes influencing decisions to prevent political opponents from securing an academic position is a long-standing antisemitic canard. Antisemites often accuse Jews as dissembling and conspiratorial, and when such claims are made without evidence, and despite assurances from the University, they are nothing more than an antisemitic conspiracy theory alleging that Jews conspired to harm academic life at the University.