Thomas Elias’ column, generally well documented and worth reading, reveals illuminating contradictions on September 22. While noting the dangers of certain biases in ethnic studies curricula, it reveals hypotheses that highlight the very “non-critical” accounts of our history that need to be fixed. His example of bias is a UCLA course on Palestine.
The instructor, he says, noted years ago that she “had decided to commit fully to Palestine.” She reports that her family were driven out of Haifa in 1948, but Elias suggests that this may not be true since no such deportation took place. From these few details, he concludes that “it has declared itself a strong supporter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, that this class promotes “alternative anti-Jewish facts” and that classes like this are likely to lead to ” violent effects “. and could “poison the university atmosphere in California”.
What is happening here? Do you question a professor of Israeli studies entirely dedicated to the study of Israel and its experience? Why is Elias suspicious of his Haifa story? —90% of Palestinians in Haifa were driven out of the city in early 1948 by Jewish mortar fire. Here is the “bias factor” that worries Elias, captured in his own account. A course on Palestine [but not Israel] is assumed to be partisan, full of “alternative facts” and shaped by the personal biases of the instructor. Many untold stories in our history need light. Race relations and Palestine are two. Both can be treated with intellectual discipline and educational integrity. We are not doing ourselves and our students justice by avoiding them.
– Jim Anderson, Chico