On December 18th, 2019, CAMERA’s Christian Media Analyst Dexter Van Zile spoke about Professor Sut Jhally’s abuse of the classroom in front of the UMass Board of Trustees. Below are his prepared remarks:

Dexter Van Zile
CAMERA’s Christian Media Analyst Dexter Van Zile

My name is Dexter Van Zile.

I work for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, a Massachusetts-based non-profit that promotes fair and accurate coverage of the Middle East.

Today I speak for CAMERA and as a Massachusetts voter and taxpayer.

I object to the abuse of public resources by Sut Jhally, chairman of the department of Communications at UMass Amherst.

Dr. Jhally uses his status as a UMass professor to promote his film, “The Occupation of the American Mind,” a dishonest movie that has no business being shown in college classrooms.

The problems with this film are documented on CAMERA’s website.

In this film, Dr. Jhally altered the quotes of two reporters, in one instance substantially altering the meaning of what was originally said.

If UMass students did in their coursework what Dr. Jhally did in this film, they would be sanctioned. He wasn’t.

Professor Jhally has used a multiple-choice exam to force his students to affirm the propagandistic message of his film.

Professor Jhally has admitted that he views the college classroom as providing a “captive audience” for his film.

This is an insult to students who attend UMass and the families who support them.

Professor Jhally organized an anti-Israel event that took place at UMass Amherst last May.

This event was sponsored by several academic departments at the school.

He organized another event which took place in November. It was sponsored by the school’s Resistance Studies Initiative. Anti-Israel propaganda promoted by professors like Dr. Jhally encourages hostility toward Jews on college campuses throughout the country.

“If UMass students did in their coursework what Dr. Jhally did in this film, they would be sanctioned. He wasn’t.”

The AMCHA Initiative has documented “a clear association between faculty support for anti-Israel academic boycotts and an increase in campus antisemitism.”

This problem is manifesting itself at UMass Amherst, which is in desperate need of more viewpoint diversity on the part of its faculty, especially in the humanities.

The AMCHA initiative has listed a number of incidents of anti-Jewish bias that have taken place at UMass Amherst. You can see them on their website.

Last December, a Jewish student was assaulted at a rally at UMass Amherst. A police report was filed. The assault was caught on video.

No arrests have been made.

In recent weeks, the victim of this assault has been the target of a campaign of harassment and intimidation assisted by faculty at UMass Amherst. A complaint providing details about this campaign has been filed with the Dean of Students at the school.

Professor Jhally’s abuse of the classroom at UMass Amherst is part of a larger problem of academics teaching that Israel — and the United States — are part of an oppressive settler-colonialist project that needs to be undermined and dismantled.

That such an agenda would be promoted at a land-grant University such as UMass Amherst is outrageous.

The whole point of the Land Grant legislation was to promote the welfare, productivity, and economic vitality of American civilization, not to undermine confidence in it.

Thank you.

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