|Monday, February 05, 2007
Law school says no to Said
for faculty post.
| By Don Cohen
Special to Divestment Watch
Wadie Said, a controversial candidate for the
faculty, has not been offered a position at the Wayne State University Law
School in Detroit.
Said, son of the late Columbia
University professor Edward Said, had garnered opposition from some students,
alumni and the pro-Israel advocacy group, StandWithUs. Opponents charged that
Said was unqualified and a supporter of terrorism. They charged that he would
be a divisive presence on campus.
More than 600 Said
supporters signed an online petition providing a rebuttal to several of
StandWithUs' charges, labeling it "a smear campaign."
In an e-mail response to a Detroit Jewish News
inquiry, Waid stated, "I have no comment on this matter."
Said's candidacy came to a vote after it was passed
through the five-member faculty search committee. The committee has the option
of sending a candidate forward for a vote with a variety of recommendations, or
with no recommendation at all, and it is not known how Said's candidacy was
presented to faculty. All tenured and tenure-track faculty vote on such matters
by secret ballot.
Citing confidentiality, neither the
dean of the law school, Frank Wu, nor the head of the faculty search committee,
Jonathan Weinberg, would share the results of the vote.
Dean Wu responded in an e-mail, "I
understand entirely that the public is interested in these subjects, as well
they should be. Yet just as judges do not discuss their opinions, so, too,
there are important ethical rules that compel discretion. I find that
frustrating myself from time to time, and I only hope any observer, whatever
their views about Mr. Said, would understand the limitations that govern our
Jonathan Schwartz, a third-year law student
from Farmington Hills who has been vocal in his opposition to Said's candidacy,
called the decision not to hire him as "intelligent." Noting that he had read
Said's writings and met with him, he said he was "distressed by the numerous
errors of law and fact in his anti-Israel scholarship."
Schwartz has been concerned that the campus
environment has been hostile to Jewish and pro-Israel students, and was
concerned that Said's presence would exacerbate tensions.
Dr. Roberta P. Seid, a historical/education consultant with StandWithUs,
together with the national director, Roz Rothstein, and Michigan chapter
president, Linda Stulberg, came out against Said's candidacy, with Seid
authoring a critical analysis of Said's scholarship and activities.
Stulberg gave credit to the network of StandWithUs
volunteer activists who mobilized the community on this issue.
Writing in an e-mail from Israel, Seid said, "We are
glad to see that WSU has chosen to uphold academic standards that demand
distinguishing fact from non-fact and objective, not polemical, inquiry into
She stressed that her group
does not oppose the teaching of what she termed the "Palestine narrative," but
not by "delegitimizing and denying the existence of a large body of serious
scholarship or by falsifying the documented records that dispute that
narrative's claims, which is what Mr. Said has done. The Palestinian narrative
should be studied - but taught by responsible, probing scholars, not by
WSU's Weinberg says he hopes to be able
to announce new faculty appointments later in the year.