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Monday, February 05, 2007
Decision At WSU
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.

WSU Response

   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 conduct."

   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.

StandWithUs Reaction

   Last November, 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 controversial issues."

   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 polemicists."

   WSU's Weinberg says he hopes to be able to announce new faculty appointments later in the year.
© 2007 Divestment Watch