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Terrorist-supporting assemblyman Dov Hikind helps give adjunct professor the boot

Dov Hikind is a bigot and a supporter of terrorism. He stood by 5 Jewish teenagers who severely beat a young Pakistani man with brass knuckles in a hate crime so heinous, it was condemned even by the Anti-Defamation League.  He is aformer follower of the terrorist group the Jewish Defense League and recently waxed nostalgic at the memorial of hate-monger Rabbi Meir Kahane whose Kach party-including the Kahane Chai spinoff-was banned, even in Israel, for racism and terrorism. He and his wife are working towards the Judaization of East Jerusalem and are doing their part to start a Holy War there by supporting the building of the Third Temple. He actually opposed the inclusion of non-Jews (there were some 5 million) in a memorial to those who died in the Holocaust and is an advocate of racial profiling.

Oh, and he said gay marriage would lead to more incest.

And, it must be said, he does all of this while wearing a kippah- he is an Orthodox Jew–which I personally find particularly galling.

(His archived press releases about Israel and the UN are pretty remarkable for a local state assemblyman.)

If he were a radical imam, he probably would have been booted out of town long ago. He’d certainly be on a number of watch lists, and for good reason. But instead, in a display of Jewish privilege, he enjoys a cushy job as a NY State Assemblyman.

In that position, he pulled a few strings the other day and this arbiter of morality  (who was also caught up in a corruption scheme years ago) called Brooklyn College and asked them to boot a young scholar, named Kristofer Petersen-Overton (pictured left), for teaching a class on Middle East politics that apparently had too many books by Palestinians in it. At least, that’s why the case came to Hikind’s attention- a student complained about the syllabus. Brooklyn College’s president, Karen Lee Gould, was apparently happy to oblige and violate all basic standards of academic freedom and do the typical administrator thing when this happens–lie about it.

The New York Times reports:

Last fall, it was an assigned book that brought the Israeli-Palestinian conflict home to Brooklyn College. A wealthy alumnus said he was cutting the college out of his will because all incoming freshmen had been asked to read “How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America,” by Moustafa Bayoumi, a professor there.

This week, it was a course — a graduate seminar on Middle East politics scheduled for the spring semester. The focus of the dispute was the adjunct professor who had been appointed to teach it, a doctoral student whose writings raised hackles even before he set foot in the classroom.

On Thursday, the professor, Kristofer Petersen-Overton, said he had learned a day earlier that the college was rescinding his appointment, saying he lacked the academic qualifications to teach such a high-level course. But the timing of that decision has led Mr. Petersen-Overton and others to question whether the decisive factor might have been politics.

Earlier in the week, Dov Hikind, a Democratic state assemblyman from Brooklyn, wrote to the college president and to the chancellor of the City University of New York, which includes Brooklyn College, to express alarm about the “slanted nature” of the professor’s works.

The Times goes on:

Critics seem to have zeroed in on one of Mr. Petersen-Overton’s unpublished papers about the idea of martyrdom in Palestinian society. “They claim I romanticize suicide bombing even though I deal very little with the issue in the paper,” he said. “I absolutely condemn it, of course. They’re clearly heinous acts.”

A spokesman for Brooklyn College, Jeremy Thompson, said the provost had revoked the appointment because of concerns that Mr. Petersen-Overton did not have the academic credentials to teach a graduate-level seminar. The course was for students pursuing a master’s degree, and Mr. Petersen-Overton currently has a master’s himself.

But Huffington Post reports:

But professor Mark Ungar — who made the decision to hire Petersen-Overton — told Salon that many of the college’s graduate courses are taught by students still working towards a Ph.D. Along with 11 other faculty members, Ungar has formally objected to the provost’s decision to let Petersen-Overton go — a move he said “undermines academic freedom and departmental governance.”

SIGN THIS Petition to Defend Academic Freedom at Brooklyn College that outraged academics  have put together. They’re demanding a formal apology and that Peterson-Overton be reinstated.

A statement on Peterson-Overton’s website says:

Mr. Petersen-Overton expressed concerns “that a state official would denounce my work so strongly without, apparently, having offered it more than a cursory reading. [Hikind’s] press release … is slander pure and simple.” Mr. Petersen-Overton emphasized that his work has little to do with suicide bombers and that Mr. Hikind deliberately twisted his conclusions to make it appear otherwise.

“I was not contacted by Brooklyn College administration at any time during their decision-making process. This politically motivated action undermines CUNY’s longstanding legacy as a stalwart defender of academic freedom,” Mr. Petersen-Overton said.

The allegations against Mr. Petersen-Overton center on time he spent in the Gaza Strip working for the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and on an unpublished scholarly paper that analyzes the symbolic place of martyrdom in Palestinian nationalism. Petersen-Overton’s detractors also took issue with the fact that, according to his personal website, he still maintains “close contact” with the Palestinian activist community.

Mr. Petersen-Overton’s academic work deals broadly with issues of identity formation in Israel and Palestine.

You can download his highly academic talk about Palestinian identity here, and below I have posted his class syllabus which reportedly started the whole debate when a student complained about it to Hikind. I’ve included the syllabus below. I think it looks fascinating and rigorous and recommend that Mr. Petersen-Overton offer the class online for a small fee. I suspect he’d make better money than most adjunct professors make these days– and in an environment where academic freedom actually means something.



Kristofer J. Petersen-Overton



Office Hours: Thursdays, 5.30-6.30 pm (?)


Course Description


This course aims to provide graduate students with a general introduction to the politics of the contemporary Middle East. It will be impossible to sufficiently cover the entire Middle East region in one semester. Therefore, the course is structured around the broad theme of identity and will be conducted at two levels: (1) a macro level which focuses on the Arab Middle East in general—and does not include details about Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan or Pakistan—and (2) a micro level which focuses specifically on Israel/Palestine. As we look at the development and evolution of political identities over time, we consider the Arab context generally and the specific case of Israeli and Palestinian political identities in particular. This approach will allow students to grapple in some depth with the complexities of an important part of the region and to acquire a feel for wider political issues in the contemporary Middle East.


Required Course Texts:


Mohammed Ayoob, The Many Faces of Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Muslim World. (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2008).

Charles D. Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents. 7th ed. (New York, NY: Bedford/St. Martins, 2009).


You will be responsible for finding all the assigned journal articles, but any other reading material will be provided via Blackboard (I have used asterisks to indicate this below).


Course Requirements




All students should actively participate in class discussions. In order to properly do this you must come to class having done all of the assigned readings. Your participation grade combines both your attendance and contribution to in-class discussions.




In one class during the semester, you will give a 15-minute oral presentation on the assigned readings for the week. To accompany the presentation, you must prepare a typed mini-paper in which you draw linkages between the texts and offer some questions for the class to discuss.


Research Papers


You will be required to submit two short research papers on topics related to Middle Eastern politics, due on (?) and (?) respectively.Your papers should draw on academic literature beyond the assigned readings and must be properly referenced (footnotes or endnotes and bibliography).




Participation: 10%

Presentation: 10%

Research Papers: 40% x 2

Total: 100%


Course Policies


Classroom Conduct


Some of the issues covered in this course are closely intertwined with deep-seated political and/or religious beliefs. I enjoy and encourage a lively classroom discussion, but it must be conducted in a respectful manner, free of invective, and conscious of what may be profound differences of opinion.


Arriving late is distracting to the others members of the class. Please let me know in advance if you will be unable to arrive on time regularly. Leaving early is also disruptive, and equally discouraged. Again, if you know you will have to leave early, please let me know in advance.




Plagiarism is academic fraud. Any student caught engaging in such activity will receive a failing grade for the course and the matter will be handed over to the college administration. Your work must be your own. Use footnotes or endnotes to give credit for direct quotes, paraphrased quotes, or borrowed ideas. If you are uncertain about what constitutes plagiarism, please arrange to meet with me.


Schedule of Topics and Readings:


Week 1: Introduction


Lisa Anderson, “Scholarship, Policy, Debate and Conflict: Why We Study the Middle East and Why It Matters,” Middle East Studies Association Bulletin 38 no. 1 (2004).


Week 2: Nationalism & Orientalism – Theoretical Foundations


* Ernest Renan, “What Is a Nation?” in Homi K. Bhabha, Nation and Narration (London; New York: Routledge, 1990), pp. 8-22.

* Benedict R. Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983), pp. 1-36.

* Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983), pp. 53-62.

* Eric Hobsbawm & Terence Ranger, The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, U.K.; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 1-14.

* Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), pp. 1-28.

* Joseph A. Massad, Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), pp. 1-10.




Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1968), pp. 148-205.

Antonio Gramsci, Selections From the Prison Notebooks. Edited by Quintin Hoare & Geoffrey N. Smith. (New York: International Publishers, 1971), pp. 206-276.


Week 3: Writing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – The Objectivity Debate


* Neil Caplan, The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Contested Histories (Chichester, U.K.; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), pp. 1-38, 221-251.

Jonathan B. Isacoff, “Writing the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Historical Bias and the Use of History in Political Science.”Perspectives on Politics 3 no. 1 (2005): 71-88.

Sari Nusseibeh, “A Formula For Narrative Selection: Comments on ‘Writing the Arab Israeli Conflict’.” Perspectives on Politics 3 no. 1 (2005): 89-92.

Sara Roy, “Humanism, Scholarship and the Politics: Writing on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict,” Journal of Palestine Studies36 no. 2 (2007): 54-65.




Noam Chomsky, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals,” London Review of Books (1967).

Noam Chomsky, Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship (New York: New Press, 1969).

Edward W. Said, “Identity, Authority and Freedom: The Potentate and the Traveler,” in Edward Said, Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (London: Granta Books, 2000) 386-410.

Edward W. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004)


Week 4: Origins of the Conflict – Zionism & Arab Nationalism


Smith, pp. 1-54.

* C. Ernest Dawn, From Ottomanism to Arabism; Essays on the Origins of Arab Nationalism (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1973), pp. 122-147.

* Rashid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), pp. 145-175.

* Alan Dowty, The Jewish State: A Century Later. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001). pp. 34-50.

Alan R. Taylor, “Zionism and Jewish History,” Journal of Palestine Studies 1 no. 2 (1972): 35-51.




Shlomo Avineri, The Making of Modern Zionism: The Intellectual Origins of the Jewish State (New York: Basic Books, 1981).

Adeed Dawisha, Arab Nationalism in the Twentieth Century: From Triumph to Despair (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003).

Rashid Khalidi, The Origins of Arab Nationalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991).

Muhammad Y. Muslih, The Origins of Palestinian Nationalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988).


Week 5: Early Years of the Conflict: The British Mandate


Smith, pp. 55-161.

* Ted Swedenburg, Memories of Revolt: The 1936-39 Rebellion and the Palestinian National Past (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2003), pp. 1-37.




Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate (New York: Owl Books, 2001).

Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001 (New York: Vintage Books, 2001).


Week 6: WWII, the Creation of Israel & the 1948 War


Smith, pp. 162-216.

* Avi Shlaim, “The Debate about 1948,” in Ilan Pappé (ed.), The Israel/Palestine Question (New York: Routledge, 1999), pp. 171-192.

* Benny Morris, “The Causes and Character of the Arab Exodus From Palestine: The Israeli Defense Forces Intelligence Service Analysis of June 1948,” in Ilan Pappé (ed.), The Israel/Palestine Question (New York: Routledge, 1999), pp. 193-210.

Nur Masalha, “A Critique of Benny Morris,” Journal of Palestine Studies 21 no. 1 (1991): 90-97.

* Nur Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of “Transfer” in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948(Washington D.C: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992), pp. 175-210.

Farid Abdel-Nour, “Responsibility and National Memory: Israel and the Palestinian Refugee Problem,” International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society 17 no. 3 (2004): 339-63.

Ghada Karmi, “The 1948 Exodus: A Family Story,” Journal of Palestine Studies 23 no. 2 (1994): 31-40.




Benny Morris. “Falsifying the Record: A Fresh Look at Zionist Documentation of 1948,” Journal of Palestine Studies 24 no. 3 (1995): 44-62.

Benny Morris, The Birth of Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, 1947-1949. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Ilan Pappé, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford: Oneworld, 2006).


Week 7: Arab-Israeli Wars & the Occupation


Smith, pp. 217-340.

* Gershon Shafir, “Zionism and Colonialism,” in Ilan Pappé (ed.), The Israel/Palestine Question (New York: Routledge, 1999), pp. 81-96.

Neve Gordon, “From Colonization to Separation: Exploring the Structure of Israel’s Occupation,” Third World Quarterly 29 no. 1 (2008): 25-44.




Neve Gordon, Israel’s Occupation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008).

Adam Roberts, “Prolonged Military Occupation: The Israeli-Occupied Territories since 1967,” The American Journal of International Law 84 no. 1 (1990): 44-103.

Eyal Weizman, Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation (London; New York: Verso, 2007).


Week 8: Intifada, Peace Process


Smith, pp. ???

* Avi Shlaim, “The Rise and Fall of the Oslo Peace Process,” in Louise Fawcett, International Relations of the Middle East(Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 242-261.

Jeremy Pressman, “Visions in Collision: What Happened at Camp David and Taba?” International Security 28, 2 (2003): 5-43.

Lori Allen, “The Polyvalent Politics of Martyr Commemorations in the Palestinian Intifada,” History & Memory 18 no. 2 (2006): 107-38.

Meira Weiss, “Bereavement, Commemoration, and Collective Identity in Contemporary Israeli Society,” Anthropological Quarterly 70 no. 2 (1997): 91-101.


Week 9: Resolving the Conflict?


Smith, pp. ???

Sara Roy, “Praying with Their Eyes Closed: Reflections on the Disengagement from Gaza,” Journal of Palestine Studies 34 no. 4 (2005): 64-74.


Jonathan Spyer, “Forward to the Past: The Fall and Rise of the ‘One-State Solution,” The Middle East Review of International Affairs 12 no. 3 (2008).




Ali Abunimah, One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006).

Benny Morris, One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009).


Week 10: Ethnic Identities: Lebanon & Iraq


* Kamal S. Salibi, A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon Reconsidered. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), pp. 1-37, 216-234.

Elie L. Salem, “Lebanon’s Political Maze: The Search for Peace in a Turbulent Land,” Middle East Journal 33 no. 4 (1979): 444-463.

* William L. Cleveland & Martin P. Bunton, A History of the Modern Middle East (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2009), pp. 332-337, 382-392 (on Lebanon); 326-330, 408-421, 563-573 (on Iraq).

* Hanna Batatu, “Of the Diversity of Iraqis, the Incohesiveness of their Society, and Their Progress in the Monarchic Period Toward a Consolidated Political Structure,” in Albert Hourani, Philip Khoury & Mary Wilson (eds.), The Modern Middle East(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 503-525.

* Fanar Haddad & Sajjad Rizvi, “Fitting Baghdad In,” in Reidar Visser & Gareth Stansfield (eds.), An Iraq of its Regions:Cornerstones of a Federal Democracy? (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), pp. 51-74.

Daniel Byman, “Constructing a Democratic Iraq: Challenges and Opportunities,” International Security 28 no. 1 (2003): 47-78.




Reidar Visser, “Ethnicity, Federalism and the Idea of Sectarian Citizenship in Iraq: A Critique,” International Review of the Red Cross 89 no. 868 (2007): 809-822.


Week 11: Islamism


Ayoob, pp. 1-89.

* Peter Mandaville, “Islam and International Relations in the Middle East: From Umma to Nation State,” in Louise Fawcett,International Relations of the Middle East (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 170-187.

Guilain Denoeux, “The Forgotten Swamp: Navigating Political Islam,” Middle East Policy  9 no. 2 (2002): 56-81.

Mona El-Ghobashy, “The Metamorphosis of the Egyptian Muslim Brothers,” International Journal of Middle East Studies37 (August 2005): 373-395.

* William L. Cleveland & Martin P. Bunton, A History of the Modern Middle East (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2009), pp.546-550.

Sara Roy, “Hamas and the Transformation(s) of Political Islam in Palestine,” Current History 102 (2003): 13-20.


Week 12: Radical Islam & Jihadism


Ayoob, pp. 90-169.

Roxanne L. Euben, “Killing (for) Politics: Jihad, Martyrdom, and Political Action,” Political Theory 30 no. 1 (2002): 4-35. 

Michael Doran, “The Pragmatic Fanaticism of Al Qaeda: An Anatomy of Extremism in Middle Eastern Politics,” Political Science Quarterly 117, 2 (2002): 177-190.

Daniel Byman, “Al-Qaeda as an Adversary: Do We Understand Our Enemy?” World Politics 56, 1 (2003): 139-163

Quitan Wiktorowicz, “A Genealogy of Radical Islam,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 28 no. 2 (2005): 75-97.


Week 13: Authoritarianism & Democratization

Jill Crystal, “Authoritarianism and its Adversaries in the Arab World,” World Politics 46 no. 2 (1994): 262-289.

Yahya Sadowski, “The New Orientalism and the Democracy Debate,” Middle East Report 183 (1993): 14-21, 40.

Eva Bellin, “The Robustness of Authoritarianism in the Middle East,” Comparative Politics 36 no. 2 (2004): 139-57.

Stephen Fish, “Islam and Authoritarianism,” World Politics 55 no. 1 (2002): 4-37.

Don Peretz, The Middle East Today (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1994), pp. 221-229, 236-239, 246-255.

Eric Davis, Memories of State: Politics, History, and Collective Identity in Modern Iraq. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 1-28.

Week 14: Gender & Sexuality


* Leila Ahmed, Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), pp. ???

* Joseph Massad, Desiring Arabs (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), pp. ???

Arlene Elowe MacLeod. “Hegemonic Relations and Gender Resistance: The New Veiling as Accommodating Protest in Cairo.”Signs 17, no. 3 (1992): 533-57.

Orna Sassoon-Levy, “Constructing Identities at the Margins: Masculinities and Citizenship in the Israeli Army, The Sociological Quarterly 43 no. 3 (2002): 357-383.

Julie Peteet, “Male Gender and Rituals of Resistance in the Palestinian Intifada: A Cultural Politics of Violence,” American Ethnologist 21 no. 1 (1994): 31-49.



Joseph A. Massad, “Conceiving the Masculine: Gender and Palestinian Nationalism,” Middle East Journal 49, no. 3 (1995): 467-83.



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