USC prof includes 'Israeli zionists' on list of 'terrorists'

A petition is calling on the University of Southern California to discipline a professor who included “Israeli Zionists” on a list of “terrorists” during a classroom presentation.

The controversy originated with a lecture that Dr. David Kang delivered on October 26 to students in International Relations (IR) 210: International Relations Introductory Analysis, a mandatory course for all IR majors and minors.

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During that class, Kang showed a slide labeled “Who are terrorists?” that listed nine groups and individuals, including the Columbian communist guerrilla movement FARC, Scottish folk hero William Wallace, the Tamil Tigers, and the Irish Republican Army.

Third on the list was “Israeli zionists,” immediately followed by communist dictators Kim Jong-il, Kim Il-sung, Mao Zedong, and Ho Chi Minh.

In a statement provided to Campus Reform, Kang claimed that the slide was part of a larger exercise, and had been taken out of context.

“I was not labeling any group as terrorists, only making the point that these groups have been called terrorist organizations by others,” Kang explained. “The point of the exercise was to get students to think about how and why organizations are labeled as terrorist organizations, and to foster a discussion about who does the labeling and for what purpose.”

In a statement to the Jewish Journal, which first reported the story, an anonymous student who was present for the class disagreed, saying that Kang “didn’t really talk about the issue any further, which…I think is the problem here,” noting that others were likewise “confused” by the presentation.

“His class was critical thinking based but in this case he did not make that clear when presenting the slide nor gave any explanation to the historical context as to why Zionists would be a labeled a ‘terrorist’ organization,” the student elaborated, adding, “there were likely many impressionable students in the class who aren’t familiar with the issue who could now associate Zionism with North Korea and Al Qaeda, etc.”

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The incident led to the creation of a petition demanding that USC “discipline Professor Kang and take concrete steps to ensure that anti-Israel sentiments and other forms of bigotry do not have a home on campus.”

Complaining that USC has thus far “refused to sanction Professor Kang or to take any action on the matter,” the petition asserts that “it is especially unfortunate that the home of the USC Shoah Foundation—a foundation dedicated to the remembrance of the Holocaust—has no concern with such indoctrination.”

As of press time, the petition had received 1,496 signatures, just four shy of its goal, but a spokesperson for USC provided a statement to Campus Reform indicating that the university does not plan to discipline Kang.

“The freedom to take unpopular positions and the freedom to express those positions publicly are at the foundation of what it means to be a faculty member of a university. One of the most important principles of an academic community has been that academic inquiry and discussion be free from censorship or undue outside control,” the university asserted. “Statements made by our faculty members are not endorsed by the University; indeed, we sometimes profoundly disagree with the statements. Nevertheless, we protect their right to express those views.   

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