Both Claremont McKenna and Pitzer investigated the incident. Raviv followed the instructions of the institutions and refused to speak publicly about the incident during the investigation. Hamideh’s allegations, however, reached far and wide. The student charged Raviv with being a racist. That charge was fanned by Hamideh’s “faculty advocate,” Pitzer’s Daniel Segal, who spoke out repeatedly although he had not been present at the incident. Segal was also required to refrain from public comment during the pendency of the investigations. He ignored that.
The vilification of Raviv went viral. There were dozens of media accounts of an Israeli professor cursing and making racist remarks to an Arab student.
The single most significant factor, of course, was not reported. The name calling took place immediately after the street theater mock checkpoint. Hamideh was dressed as an Israeli soldier, not attired in a keffiyah or with any other Palestinian identifying clothing or accessories.
He also has entirely western features. There was no way Raviv could have assumed Hamideh was anything other than a fair-skinned American student dressed up in Israeli fatigues. They had never met before and Raviv did not know Hamideh’s name. This, and the fact that “cockroach” is not Israeli slang for Arab or Palestinian, should have served as a warning to those repeating Hamideh and Segal’s charges of racism against Raviv.
Because Raviv followed the universities’ instructions not to discuss the incident while the schools were conducting internal investigations, his side of the story was not publicly aired until much later than were the initial reports slamming Raviv as a racist. Those reports also falsely described Raviv as an opponent of free speech who tried to shut down the demonstrations. All he tried to do, as corroborated by witnesses, was to get the SJP students to comply with the CMC demonstrations policy.
Raviv filed a grievance with Pitzer College against Hamideh and Segal’s assaults on Raviv’s reputation, but Pitzer rejected his claims as meritless without ever interviewing Raviv. Claremont McKenna found that Raviv should not have used foul language at the student, but agreed with Raviv that the SJP students violated CMC’s policies.
Whether we should include what happened at the Claremont Colleges last year as a pro-Israel bright light may be worthy of debate. The reason it is included is because it is evidence of how a single, principled individual can do something that is both unusual and especially important. Raviv refused to simply ignore what was an intimidating demonstration by anti-Israel students who were giddy with power and flush with the false immunity of “free speech” that so often leads pro-Israel students to cower and remain silent. Raviv also refused to back down when the game plan changed and the students then turned on him, smearing him with the most incendiary of all slurs, that of racism.
12. The final entry in this year’s pro-Israel bright lights on U.S. campuses is Charles Jacobs. Jacobs has had a long history in pro-Israel and human rights advocacy. He has founded and headed several organizations including the American Anti-Slavery Group and the David Project. In 2008, Jacobs co-founded Americans for Peace and Tolerance.
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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