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‘Cockroach’ as anti-Arab Slur and other Narrative Creations

Two Claremont Colleges conducted investigations: Pitzer exonerated its Students for Justice in Palestine members and pilloried a Jewish Israeli faculty member from the other school, while Claremont Mckenna found the Pitzer students and the faculty member behaved poorly.

Najib Hamideh and other Students for Justice in Palestine bar students entry to Claremont McKenna College cafeteria in "Israeli checkpoint street theater demonstration," March 4, 2013

Najib Hamideh and other Students for Justice in Palestine bar students entry to Claremont McKenna College cafeteria in "Israeli checkpoint street theater demonstration," March 4, 2013

But Segal was very eager to share.  His eagerness to be an advocate to Hamideh was undoubtedly motivated by his very real perception that evil Zionists are out to demonize Arab students and deprive them of their constitutional rights, and that Claremont McKenna College is a “biased institution” which issued a “materially misleading” report.

Eventually, CMC informed Segal that he could not continue to serve as Hamideh’s faculty advocate because CMC found Segal had violated confidentiality requirements outlined in the CMC Handbook, Section IV, p. 5. That revocation was contested by Segal and  outside legal counsel providing assistance, the Center for Constitutional Rights.  The CCR also provided legal assistance to the SJP students who inappropriately removed Jewish pro-Israel students from a February Brooklyn College BDS event.  That removal may have constituted constitutional violations of the rights of the students who were expelled.

The only way for an outsider to determine what happened at the March 4 SJP mock checkpoint demonstration was to listen to Segal and to read the public statements issued by the two colleges, following investigations each conducted.  The Jewish Press was also able to speak with Yaron Raviv, the CMC faculty member, but he would not share anything while the investigation was ongoing, nor would he share any emails or documents that were labeled “confidential.”

Shortly after CMC issued its review and findings, Hamideh filed a formal grievance against Raviv with CMC.  On May 7, CMC rejected the grievance, allegedly because Hamideh was unwilling to abide by the confidentiality requirements of the CMC grievance process.

PITZER’S INVESTIGATION AND CONSIDERATION OF RAVIV’S GRIEVANCE

Pitzer College also undertook an investigation.  In an April 26 letter to the Pitzer College Community, Pitzer President Laura Skandera Trombley revealed that Pitzer’s findings were very different from CMC’s. Trombley honed in on the only undisputed fact – that Raviv used inappropriate language (which he had readily and repeatedly admitted) – but rejected any allegation of inappropriate conduct either by Hamideh in particular or the SJP demonstrators as a whole.

Pitzer concluded that the SJP students did not violate the demonstration policy because the students were asked to move three times, and after each time, they moved.  Trombley acknowledged that Pitzer’s findings differ from those of CMC.

Indeed.  CMC found a violation of the policy because not once, not twice, but three separate times the SJP students violated the demonstration policy against blocking freedom of movement, and Pitzer’s response was the equivalent of “why, yes, but each time you asked us to stop beating our wife we did, so we’re not guilty.”

Trombley also informed the community that Pitzer Vice President for Student Affairs Jim Marchant rejected a grievance filed by Prof. Raviv because he “determined that there was no merit to the complaint based on his investigation of the incident.”

But Raviv was not included in either Pitzer’s investigation or during Marchant’s consideration of Raviv’s grievance.  When Segal – someone who is extremely focused on process – sometimes – was asked about this anomaly, he told The Jewish Press, “that can’t be right.”

Segal said he would ask his “good friend” Jim Marchant about this issue.  Segal then contacted The Jewish Press to explain that Marchant said he “did not need to speak with Raviv” about Raviv’s grievance because Marchant “had already heard what Raviv had to say during the CMC investigation.” What?  Is that an impartial investigation by a college administrator?

Dan Segal was also happy to share a written document from the public safety officer who arrived on the scene of the March 4 demonstration after Raviv called him.  That document shows that the officer heard Raviv call Hamideh a f[expletive deleted] cockroach, and did not hear the student say anything to Raviv, and the officer did not see the SJP students blocking the dining hall doorway.  In isolation, it certainly seems to support Segal and the SJP’s version of what happened.

But CMC concluded, after speaking with the public safety officer and with others present during the critical times, times during which the public safety officer was not present, that the SJP students did – several times – block the doorway to the dining hall.  Either CMC made this determination ignoring the testimony of anyone other than Raviv or they didn’t.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


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3 Responses to “‘Cockroach’ as anti-Arab Slur and other Narrative Creations”

  1. John Keytack says:

    The heading for this post is misleading. Calling an arab or a muslim a cockroach isn’t necessarily an anti-arab slur. The professor might have called anyone that under similar circumstances. For example, if someone from refers to Andrew Cuomo as human vermin that doesn’t mean it’s an anti-Italian or anti-Catholic slur.

  2. Lori Lowenthal Marcus says:

    That’s the point, John. It isn’t an anti-Arab slur, but the SJP students and Prof. Segal need to twist it into one in order to claim Raviv was being racist and not just inappropriate by losing his temper and cursing at a student.

  3. Chernasky says:

    The greatest pity is the craven behavior of the Jewish students who lacked the beitzim to force their way through these punks; ran to “daddy,”and then didn’t have the self respect to support him. “We were like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and appeared so to them.”

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