Photo Credit: Spencer Frei's Facebook photo in BASH, Bruins Against Sexual Harassment
Professor Gabriel Piterberg teaching against a slogan attacking his presence in class.

UCLA’s Israeli History professor Gabriel Piterberg in 2014 settled with the university to pay a $3,000 fine, accept a one-quarter suspension without pay, be removed as head of the university’s Center for Near East Studies, attend sexual harassment training, and accept a three-year ban on closed-door meetings with individual students.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Piterberg grew up in Israel, served in the army and received academic degrees from Tel Aviv University in Middle East history and political science, and a doctorate from Oxford University.


Professor Piterberg has been known to elucidate on the “Israeli onslaught on Gaza Palestinians,” calling IDF soldiers “war criminals.” He describes Israeli history as being, essentially, the “forced removal of the indigenous people (that’s the Arabs) in favor of the settler nation-state.” He repeatedly accuses Israel of killing Arabs with white phosphorous.

A “devoted disciple of Orientalism author Edward Said,” Cinnamon Stillwell described him in 2012, “Piterberg blames Israel exclusively, and romanticizes the Palestinian ‘resistance.’ He distorts the conflict’s history by employing terms such as ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘atrocities’ to describe Israel’s founding in 1948.”

You get the idea. And so it was with our awareness of the good professor’s war on the Jewish State that we’ve been following his struggle with his more base urges.

Nefertiti Takla and Kristen Glasgow, both History graduate students, in 2015 sued UCLA accused Piterberg of making unwelcome sexual advances and comments, conversing about sexual matters and forcing his tongue into their mouths. According to a UCLA statement, the UC Board of Regents paid one student $350,000 and the other $110,000. One of the students will also get a dissertation year fellowship in her final year of graduate school.

Professor Piterberg was back in class this week. But UCLA students have not forgotten. With a terrifying tenacity they protested outside his two classes Monday, causing both to be cancelled.

On Wednesday students affiliated with several campus groups continued their protests against Professor Piterberg. Bruin Consent Coalition, United Auto Workers Local 2865 (representing academic student workers) and Bruins Against Sexual Harassment members held up signs in the hallway outside the classroom in Broad Art Center where Piterberg was lecturing, the Daily Bruin reported.

“We wanted to send a clear message to the university and the history department that we don’t think someone accused of sexual harassment should be teaching undergraduate classes,” Melissa Melpignano, a fourth-year doctoral student and member of Bruins Against Sexual Harassment, told the LA Times.


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