Stanford University in the United States has suspended a lecturer for allegedly describing Israelis as “colonisers” and asking Jewish students in his class to stand in the corner. According to the New York Post, Israeli students on the campus said that the lecturer, whose identity hasn’t been revealed, opened two freshman classes on Tuesday by saying the lesson would be colonialism. He then went on to make Jewish students stand in a corner while branding them “colonisers”, downplayed the Holocaust and also called Hamas operatives “freedom fighters”.
Citing the San Francisco Chronicle, the Post reported that the lecturer blamed the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel on “Zionists” – supporters of a movement for the protection of an independent Jewish state. He reportedly justified the killings of more than 1,300 Israelis by Hamas gunmen over the weekend, saying that it was part of Palestinians’ resistance.
One student said that the lecturer asked Jewish students to raise their hands, before separating them from their belongings. He stated that he was trying to simulate what Jews were doing to Palestinians. The lecturer asked students how many people had died in the Holocaust. When one student answered six million, the lecturer allegedly replied: “Yes. Only six million”.
According to the Post, the lecturer claimed that more people died as a result of colonialism than in the Holocaust, and colonisation was what happened to Palestinians. He also separated students into different groups, based on their identities and backgrounds, which he called “colonisers” and “colonised”.
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Stanford University addressed the incident and issued a statement regarding the same. In a press note, Stanford President Richard Saller and Provost Jenny Martinez confirmed the lecturer’s suspension. They also stated that the university has opened an internal investigation into the “instructor”.
“We have received a report of a class in which a non-faculty instructor is reported to have addressed the Middle East conflict in a manner that called out individual students in class based on their backgrounds and identities,” the statement read.
“Without prejudging the matter, this report is a cause for serious concern. Academic freedom does not permit the identity-based targeting of students. The instructor in this course is not currently teaching while the university works to ascertain the facts of the situation,” it added.
Notably, this comes amid accounts of atrocities on both sides. More than 3,500 people have been killed so far in Israel and Gaza. Over 3 lakh people have also been forced to flee their homes in the Gaza Strip as heavy Israeli bombardments continue to hit the Palestinian enclave.