We wrote about Kahane-supporter NY State Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s successful
effort to get Brooklyn College to fire adjunct Middle East Studies professor Kristofer
Petersen-Overton because a student didn’t like the syllabus for his course. Hikind
also glanced at a sophisticated academic paper on Palestinian identity and decided
that Petersen-Overton was somehow in favor of suicide bombers. This absurd charge
was picked up by the right-wing echo chamber. Astonishingly, Brooklyn College adm-
inistrators acquiesced and fired the young academic while clearly lying about it- they
said he lacked proper credentials.
But now, just confirmed in a conversation with Petersen-Overton, they’ve reversed their
decision and have rehired Petersen-Overton “unconditionally.” Apparently they’ve made
an official statement though it hasn’t appeared in the media yet.
A palpably relieved Petersen-Overton told me it was the massive support from academics
and others that made the difference:
“It was so inspiring, how many hundreds of people got involved. They
denied it was politically motivated, but administrators know what hap-
pened…. They got many letters of support from international political
scientists attesting to the rigor of my work..” It was the outcry, specifi-
cally from academics– who naturally don’t like McCarthyism when they
see it– which made all the difference.
If tens of thousands of Tunisians and Egyptians can risk their lives to fight for
freedom,certainly, risking much less, we can continue to rise up and fight bull-
ying and McCarthyism when we see it. Mazel tov Petersen-Overton. Mazel tov
academic freedom. Cecilie Surasky, Jewish Voice for Peace.