Monday, December 12, 2011

CSU Northridge President Jolene Koester on opposing anti-Semitism "Too Bad"

Our story so far:
David Klein, a Cal State University at Northridge math professor devotes as much time and energy to Israel-bashing as he does to mathematics. He originated a petition to pressure the CSU system not to re-instate the study abroad program in Israel, and apparently has used his CSU sponsored website to give his math students a heady dose of hate, every time they visit.

Tammi Benjamin of the Amcha foundation was contacted. Ms. Benjamin wrote an open letter to Jolene Koester, President of California State University, Northridge expressing her concern. In response, she received a two word email. "Too Bad".
From Presidents Koester biography:
"She earned a Bachelor's of Arts from the University of Minnesota in 1970, a Master's of Arts in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1971, and a Ph.D. in speech communication from Minnesota in 1980." You'd think someone with a doctorate in "communications' could come up with a more coherent response to accusations of anti-Semitism on her campus, but no.... she didnt

From: Tammi Benjamin
Date: November 22, 2011 4:32:39 PM PST
Subject: serious concerns about anti-Semitic webpages on the CSUN website
Dr. Jolene Koester
President, California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff St.
Northridge, CA 91330
Dear President Koester,
We are faculty members at the University of California, who have been investigating and documenting anti-Jewish bigotry on California public university campuses for the last several years.
In case you have not seen them, we wanted to bring to your attention two webpages of CSU Northridge Professor of Mathematics David Klein, which are hosted on the CSUN server:
Professor Klein's "Home Page," linked to the "Tenure-Track Faculty" webpage of the CSUN Department of Mathematics, contains a section entitled "CSU and Political Issues," that includes a link to another CSUN-hosted webpage entitled "Boycott Israel."
Professor Klein's "Boycott Israel" page contains a litany of false and inflammatory statements and photographs intended to incite hatred and promote political activism against the Jewish state.
There are several reasons why Professor Klein's webpages should be immediately removed from the CSUN server:
1) These webpages are in clear violation of the CSU policy prohibiting the misuse of the CSU name for inappropriate purposes, including for the promotion of political organizations and activities such as "boycott." As you have seen on Professor Klein's Home Page, he specifically links the University to several political action organizations and activities, including the boycott of Israel, in a section he telling calls "CSU and Political Issues."
2) Many of Professor Klein's statements on his "Boycott Israel" webpage meet the U.S. Department of State's Working Definition of Anti-Semitism, including the statement that "Israel is the most racist country in the world." In addition, the pictures of mutilated dead babies that appear on this page, with the clear implication that the babies have been brutally murdered by Israeli soldiers, are perfect examples of the classic anti-Semitic "blood libel", the false accusation that Jews kill non-Jewish children for evil purposes, an accusation that has been used throughout Jewish history for the purpose of inciting hatred and violence against Jews. Campaigns to boycott the Jewish state are also anti-Semitic according to the U.S. State Department, and in some cases are a violation of U.S. law.
3) The promotion of virulently anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements and imagery on the departmental website of a CSUN faculty member cannot help but contribute to a hostile environment for Jewish students on your campus.
4) CSUN is a public university, whose facilities and resources, including the CSUN website, are supported by the tax dollars of California citizens, many of whom would find Professor Klein's webpages an egregious violation of public trust.
We do not believe that this is an issue of Professor Klein's freedom of speech. Indeed, CSUN's policy on internet use explicitly states that the University has the right to remove "any defamatory, offensive, infringing, or illegal materials" from its website. If you choose not to remove Professor Klein's anti-Semitic material from the CSUN website, we will presume that it is because the University finds nothing "defamatory, offensive, infringing, or illegal" about these webpages, and is unconcerned with the effects they may have on CSUN students, parents, community members, and taxpayers.
We know that you will soon be retiring as CSUN President, but we trust that you will have the opportunity to look into this matter and take appropriate action.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
Lecturer, University of California at Santa Cruz
Co-founder the AMCHA Initiative


Dear President Koester,
I am shocked and distressed by your recent reply to me in response to a letter I co-authored, urging you to address an egregious case of anti-Jewish bigotry on your campus. Our letter asked you to condemn and remove Professor David Klein's anti-Semitic and highly offensive webpages from the CSUN server. In your response, you callously wrote: "Too bad." (See below).
As you know, our letter was sent to you under the aegis of the AMCHA Initiative, an organization representing more than 5,000 members and supporters of the California Jewish community, who are deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of Jewish students on California campuses. In that regard, your response is not only dismissive and disrespectful of me, but of a large segment of the Jewish community as well.
Moreover, your lack of sensitivity to our serious concerns about anti-Semitism and the welfare of Jewish students on your campus is appalling.
I and many members of the Jewish community consider it highly inappropriate for the leader of a major public university to behave in this way.
It is indeed "too bad."
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
Co-founder the AMCHA Initiative
Lecturer University of California, Santa Cruz


On Dec 9, 2011, at 3:29 PM, Koester, Jolene wrote:

Dear Ms. Benjamin:

I apologize that you received in error an email from me containing the message “too bad.” I am away from the office and dealing with email from afar. I had intended to forward your response letter to University staff, and instead of pressing “forward,” I inadvertently hit “reply.”

The comment “too bad” was meant to express to internal staff regret about the controversy and the distress it has caused. It was not a comment directed at you or others who have written to share their concerns, and was not intended to disrespect or dismiss either you or your point of view. I apologize and deeply regret the misunderstanding this error has caused.

Jolene Koester


And whats our friend, the math professor doing throughout this exchange? He's attempting to fan the flames,and exploit the bad feelings his web page has caused. Its all in the name of academic freedom, after all. Why is Jolene Koester so cavalier about anti-Semitism on campus, anyway? Apaprently, she is due to retire this month.

The behavior of professors such as David Klein, and the dismissive, enabling behavior of President Jolene Koester sends a chilling message to Jewish students at CSU Northridge. Remember this, when its time to apply for college.


Anonymous said...

would like to know when the concept of academic freedom morphed from being able to say anything in your field of study, to being able to say anything at all

Anonymous said...

did you read the hate mail section?

most of it is well reasoned arguments against klein

guess he considers showing intelligence a hate crime