Pittsburgh’s Point Park University “became the first school in the U.S. where BDS partisans charged a professor with a Title IX sexual harassment violation,” explained the victim of that anti-Israel witch hunt.
By United with Israel Staff
Professor Channa Newman, 77, is suing Point Park University in Pittsburgh for employment discrimination based on allegations that the faculty and students took actions driven by the “insidious anti-inclusive, anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic ideology of BDS.”
According to Newman’s 18-count complaint, Point Park University Professor Robert Ross and Professor J. Dwight Hines “advanced militant and hateful views” that are both “against Israel” and “in favor of BDS.” These views “are anti-Semitic and lead to the creation of a hostile work environment,” continues the complaint, the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle reported.
Newman, who is Jewish and has taught at the university since 1964, was born in Europe during the Holocaust and has U.S., Israeli and Czech citizenship.
At Point Park, Newman serves as chair of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and a professor of French and Cultural Studies.
Ross, associate professor and coordinator for the university’s Social Justice Studies Program, is a recognized critic of Israel. He leads Palestinian advocacy efforts and is a member of the Organizing Collective of the U.S. Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. He also sits on the board of trustees for Friends of Sabeel North America, an organization that appears on an Anti-Defamation League list of the top 10 anti-Israel groups in America.
Newman claims Ross used his position at the university to promote “highly anti-Zionist views and activities” and “foster the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.”
She said that the professors and students, who promote BDS sought to remove her from her position because she did not acquiesce to their one-sided presentation of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
“One of my countries was being attacked. I just wanted transparency,” she explained.
Absurd Allegations of ‘Sexual Harassment’
In 2018, Newman was fired after a student accused the seasoned professor of sexual harassment under Title IX of the federal civil rights law, which is designed to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender in any educational program or federally funded activity. Ross supported and counseled the student.
“During one class in November, Newman said, in her opinion, that the ‘MeToo’ movement provided false hope for women who had been sexually abused,” according to a post on the Elder of Ziyon blog.
“Five days later a student filed a Title IX complaint and a week after that Newman was removed from her three classes before the school even asked her what happened. Her students knew about her suspension before she did,” the blog reported.
Title IX violations are among the most serious accusations educators can face. It is one of the few ways tenured teachers can be fired. Following an investigation, Newman was reinstated to her post in January 2019, and exonerated of the claim against her.
However, she is suing for emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress and harm to reputation, the Jewish Chronicle reported.
Newman’s attorney, James Lieber, believes this is the first instance in which anti-Israel activists used Title IX as a pretext to remove a faculty member.
“This is the way, if you really want to go after somebody who has tenure, you can do that,” he said, according to the Chronicle. “People involved with BDS, they have bullied people on other campuses, they have boycotted them in various ways. But this is the first time that Title IX has shown up [as a BDS tool] anywhere in the United States.”
In a letter to the university’s student newspaper, Newman wrote, “Make no mistake, I, a Jew and an Israeli, [and i] am the only victim here … For over a decade, the BDS movement has bullied and silenced Jews, Israelis and Zionists at American colleges and universities. But in 2018, Point Park became the first school in the United States where BDS partisans charged a professor with a Title IX sexual harassment violation.”
She said “a mere charge [of sexual harassment] can lead to ostracism, shunning, isolation and wild lies on the web, as has happened to me.”
Criticizing the university’s handling of her case as well as BDS activists on campus, Newman said, “The administration’s initial support of the flimsy and legally baseless claim and the brutal way they treated me is a central reason for my lawsuit. Another is the administration’s extreme tolerance for the insidious anti-inclusive, anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic ideology of BDS. With administrative support, this hate-driven ideology – directed exclusively at the Jewish state of Israel and at supporters of Israel such as myself – has ill-served our Point Park community and the Pittsburgh community at large.”
The lawsuit was filed for the sake of “education and deterrence,” Lieber said, according to the Chronicle. “It’s important to stand up and Channa has done that.”
A statement from Point Park’s managing director of marketing and public relations, Lou Corsaro said the university denies all allegations of wrongdoing
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