Everyone involved in the dispute over William I. Robinson talks about lines being crossed.
A tenured professor of sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Robinson said that his critics have crossed lines of fairness by equating his criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, and that the faculty judicial system is crossing lines that are supposed to protect academic freedom by investigating him.
His critics say that he crossed a line of professionalism by sending e-mail to all of the students in one of his courses material about "parallel" images of Nazi and Israeli attacks. Some students view the material as anti-Semitic, and they quit the course and filed a grievance against him.
Faculty members are in the process of selecting a panel that will consider the charges against Robinson and determine whether to recommend that a standing faculty panel conduct a full investigation of the incident. While no action has been taken against him at this time, he views the inquiries as an attempt to quash criticism of Israel. Robinson is consulting with lawyers and may sue to block the coming proceedings.
At issue is an e-mail message that Robinson sent to the approximately 80 students in January in a course about sociology and globalization. The e-mail contained an an article criticizing the Israeli military's actions in Gaza. Part of the e-mail was an assemblage of photos from Nazi Germany's persecution of Jews and from Israel's actions in Gaza. Students were invited to look at the "parallel images." A message from Robinson argued that Gaza would be like "Israel's Warsaw."