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New York college suspends professor ‘energized’ by Hamas attack on Israel

‘Who could not feel energized seeing oppressed people bulldozing the fences enclosing them, taking to the skies in escape, and flying freely through the air?’

A tenured professor is suspended throughout the rest of the semester after writing an essay celebrating Hamas’ attack on Israel.

“McCarthyism is real. I’ve been relieved of teaching responsibilities,” Hobart and William Smith Colleges Professor Jodi Dean wrote Saturday on X. “Don’t stop talking about Palestine.”

“The images from October 7 of paragliders evading Israeli air defenses were for many of us exhilarating,” the New York political scientist wrote the week prior in a blog post for Verso Books.

She wrote further:

Here were moments of freedom, that defeated Zionist expectations of submission to occupation and siege. In them, we witnessed seemingly impossible acts of bravery and defiance in the face of the certain knowledge of the devastation that would follow (that Israel practices asymmetric warfare and responds with disproportionate force is no secret). Who could not feel energized seeing oppressed people bulldozing the fences enclosing them, taking to the skies in escape, and flying freely through the air?

Mark Gearan, the president of HWS Colleges, wrote, in a letter to the college community, “I deeply regret that as a result of Professor Dean’s comments, there now may be students on our campus who feel threatened in or outside the classroom.” 

 “Not only am I in complete disagreement with Professor Dean, I find her comments repugnant, condemn them unequivocally, and want to make clear that these are her personal views and not those of our institution. One of my priorities as president is to build an intellectually vibrant and relationship-rich campus community,” President Gearan wrote.

“The Colleges recognize and affirm the importance of free dialogue on ideas,” he wrote. “We have worked tirelessly to create an environment where we can discuss hard issues upon which we may disagree. But we can never and will never condone or praise violence, particularly when that violence is directed at individuals based on their religion, race or national origin.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that a follow up message from the provost, Sarah Kirk, explained that “the colleges are obligated under Title VI, a federal antidiscrimination law, to investigate potential ‘hostile environments’ involving national origin, shared ancestry, or other protected classes.’” 

The news outlet also reported Dean will continue to be paid.

She also “has access to her office, and can continue to do research. [The spokesperson] rejected any suggestion that Dean’s academic freedom had been violated, and added that the professor had made comments similar to the controversial essay at a campus lecture on March 28.”

Some defended the professor’s right to speak freely, even if disagreeing with her views, according to The Chronicle.

Princeton University Professor Robert George “said that while he found the views Dean expressed in her article appalling, the colleges’ response seemed to conflict with their own endorsement of the American Association of University Professors’ principles on academic freedom, which are included in the faculty handbook.”

“None of the unprotected categories of speech are relevant here,” the conservative professor said. “Jodi Dean did not threaten anybody. She did not harass anybody. She did not engage in defamation or accuse somebody of a crime falsely.” 

However, Cornell University law Professor William Jacobson had different views.

“You endorse the academic boycott of Israel depriving Israelis and American students and scholars who want to study in or with Israelis of their academic freedom,” Jacobson wrote on X, responding to a post from Professor Dean. “You’re not just a ghoulish depraved communist supporter of Islamist terrorism, you’re an academic freedom fraud.”

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IMAGES: Hobart and William Smith Colleges; College Fix edits

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