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U. Pennsylvania professors’ ‘McCarthyism’ lawsuit dismissed by court

The District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania early last week dismissed a “McCarthyism” lawsuit filed by members of the University of Pennsylvania group Penn Faculty for Justice in Palestine.

Judge Mitchell Goldberg set aside the suit “due to lack of standing.”

Filed by professors Huda Fakhreddine (Arabic literature) and Eve Troutt Powell (Africana studies) “in conjunction” with PFJP, the suit accused Penn of “stifling speech critical of Israel,” The Daily Pennsylvanian reports.

The pro-Palestinian professors alleged the U.S. House of Representatives’ request for Penn documents related to its campus antisemitism investigation was a “threat” to their academic freedom.

Goldberg also ruled against the professors’ request for a preliminary injunction against submission of the documents, saying they “failed to clearly specify what information Penn would disclose and how it would harm them.”

“The fact that Plaintiffs were harassed before is not enough,” Goldberg said. “Plaintiffs need to show that Penn’s documents would contribute to that harassment.”

The judge gave Penn Faculty for Justice in Palestine two weeks to submit “an amended complaint,” but noted they should only do so if they “can, in good faith, allege facts to support standing.”

In a statement, PFJP said Goldberg was “mistaken” and that it planned to appeal.

“It is egregious that Penn is turning over faculty emails, syllabi, disciplinary case records, and other documents as part of this baseless, right-wing, Congressional witch hunt,” PFJP said. “Harm has been done and is being done. Our university should protect its faculty and students and support academic freedom and its educational mission.”

Last month after law enforcement dismantled the pro-Hamas encampment at Penn, Professor Fakhreddine (pictured) alleged police had “brutalized” students and claimed the incident was akin to Israel “invading” her Lebanese village during her childhood.

And earlier this year, Fakhreddine said a Modern Language Association “emergency motion” calling for the “protection of college faculty who condemn Israel” was a “matter of life and death.”

MORE: Penn faculty ‘die-in’ blocks building entrance in ‘solidarity with civilians in Gaza’

IMAGES: Ulf Wittrock/Shutterstock.com; U. Pennsylvania

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