Newman is a long-time professor of French and Cultural Studies and Chair of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, who has just sued Point Park University claiming “employment discrimination based on her Jewish and Israeli ancestry and alleging that there has been a concerted effort led by anti-Zionist faculty and students to create a hostile work environment.”
She is also a savvy Holocaust survivor who has certainly learned her lessons. What’s more, she lives and works in Pittsburgh, where white nationalist, Robert Gregory Bowers, unleashed a Jew-hating massacre at the “Tree of Life” synagogue on a Sabbath in October of 2018.
Newman has filed an 18-count complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and the counts include: “Discrimination of race/national origin, religion, age, and sex; Retaliation by stripping of duties, removing as Chair; Hostile work environment causing Newman to feel unsafe; Breach of contract and negligent supervision by administration who Newman claims ignored her; Intention inflictional of emotional distress resulting from university’s action.”
In her lawsuit, Professor Newman has named another Point Park professor, Robert Ross, as having used his position to promote “highly anti-Zionist views and activities” and to “foster the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.” She has also named another professor, J. Dwight Hines as having aided and abetted Ross’s machinations.
Ross and Hines are two men who appear to be at least 30 to 40 years young than Newman; in turn, they have misled and used vulnerable, even younger students, in a witch-hunt against a women, a Jew, and an Israeli, who is in her late seventies—and whose academic accomplishments and knowledge base seem to far outshine their own.
In a private exchange, Professor Channa thanked me for my “words of support…(she has) been battling the BDS ideology on (her) campus all alone (for) five years and will now be able to do it publicly. The zeal that drove the anti-Zionist and his supporters (along with the vulnerable students he mobilized for the hunt)” and that led to his”guiding a student to file a false Title IX charge against me (which) may prove to have been a mistake.”
Now, Professor Channa hopes to unmask BDS and to expose it as the “hate force and fraud that it is. Under cover of “social justice” and conflating ‘Palestinian rights’ with intersectionality (the magic word) and all whom they designated as ‘oppressed,’ the new antisemites make their ‘moral’ claim against Israel. And against me.”
In her civil complaint, Dr. Newman details a painful but typical pattern of organized “shunning and disrespect by student followers, and some faculty, administrators, and alumni.” She details her lead tormentor’s refusal to visit Israel and Jordan when he took his students to visit “Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.” His response: “My Hezbollah friends would disown me if I went to Israel.”
And exactly who has led the demon-pack against Professor Newman? None other than a professor whose Ph.D is in Geography (!), and who once taught at the American University in Beirut (as did Professor Steven Salaita, another high profile and well-protected anti-Zionist). Robert Ross describes himself as an Associate Professor of Literary Arts and Social Justice Studies, and the Co-ordinator of the Social Justice Studies Program. Some of his articles are titled: “No Space for Apartheid: Towards an Academic Boycott of Israel Among Geographers”; “One Year Later, Gaza is still in Crisis” (which appeared at the decidedly non-academic Mondoweiss!); “We Know Best How to Liberate You: The Misguided Attack on Presbyterian Divestment” (also in Mondoweiss); “Divestment is an Investment in Love, Peace, and Justice”; and “Price Tag attacks and Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” (also in Mondoweiss).
I had to wait many years for a professor to go on the offensive publicly. Newman is a Holocaust survivor, holds Israeli, Czech, and U.S. citizenship, but more importantly, she has been employed at Point Park University since 1964. Newman speaks many languages and her research and publications are wide-ranging.
I am indebted to Professor Andrew Pessin, whose own 2015 case I and Richard Landes were both privileged to cover. Together with Doron S. Ben-Atar, Professor Pessin has since co-edited a must-read book titled Anti-Zionism on Campus: The University, Free Speech, and BDS. Professor Pessin called my attention to Newman’s case.
But now, Professor Newman’s civil complaint is here. It should become a template for pro-Israel professors who are under similar siege.
Long, long ago, but no so far away, in 2001-2002, I insisted that anti-Zionism=anti-Semitism in the late 20th and 21st centuries. This all-too-obvious idea was contained in the manuscript of my 2003 book on the subject The New Anti-Semitism and in the hundreds of articles I wrote and collected since then. At the time, my editor strongly objected to my saying so. He kept asking me if I was “sure, really sure that I wanted to write this.” I stood my ground.
This was not the only politically incorrect idea I shared in this work. I also held the Western intelligentsia and glitterati responsible for collaborating with Islamists and I understood that the cognitive filth coming out of the Muslim world was traditional Islamic Jew hatred in increasingly ramped up versions. I also viewed the pro-Palestine and anti-Israel maliciousness of Europeans and the United Nations as the way they were continuing the Holocaust.
Very few books hit the grand trifecta as I’d done. Abe Foxman’s 2003 book, Never Again?: The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism, primarily focused only on white supremacist, neo-Nazi Jew hatred. This distressingly minor and misguided work got reviewed everywhere.
My book was barely reviewed in the mainstream media. It did not sell many copies. Many liberal and left-wing Jews kept challenging me as well. My reputation as a trendy, cutting-edge intellectual took a deep dive. And few—even those who supported my work and honored me personally—publicly remembered where they first heard these ideas in English.
However, at the time, those American university professors who read my book began writing to me to share how they had been shamed and threatened on campuses for being perceived as pro-Israel or as too pro-Israel. With their permission, I turned their emails over to the one interested editor at the New York Times who specialized in education. She had tried to review my book but had been turned down. I suggested she do a story about the death of truth on the American campus—and she agreed. Within a few weeks, she told me, rather sadly, that she’d been “stopped at the highest level.”
The one-sided pro-“Palestine” madness on American campuses is a virus which shows no sign of quitting anytime soon. But now we have some professors who are willing to publicly fight back.
For the first time in history, Professor Newman’s Point Park adversaries concocted a fake Title IX complaint against a woman (brought by a student for her alleged “insensitivity” to the #MeToo movement). She “sexually harassed” no one. Newman was easily exonerated. However, the hostility has continued.
Professor Channa has endured having her students, some colleagues, and some administrators “ghost” her. Students have refused to study with her. She was removed from a class she regularly taught—and her students knew about this before she did. And then, a new Title IX complaint was filed against her, allegedly having to do with her views of the American Presidency.
In Channa Newman, we have a new Dreyfus, one who is vigorously fighting back. She should be supported by a network of scholars, philanthropists, journalists, and lawyers, and by Jews and people of good will everywhere.
The writer is a Ginsburg-Ingerman Fellow at the Middle East Forum, received the 2013 National Jewish Book Award,.authored 18 books, including Women and Madness and The New Anti-Semitism, and 4 studies about honor killing, Her latest books are An American Bride in Kabul, A Family Conspiracy: Honor Killing and A Politically Incorrect Feminist.