- Senior lecturer in the Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies Departments at UC Berkeley
- Supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel
- Former executive board member of the United States Student Association
- Former head of UC Berkeley’s campus Muslim Students Association
- Co-founder of Students for Justice in Palestine
- Founder of American Muslims for Palestine
Dr. Hatem Bazian is a native Palestinian who is a lecturer in the Near Eastern, Asian American, and Asian Diaspora Studies Departments at UC Berkeley. He is also a co-founder of, and a Professor of Islamic Law and Theology at, Zaytuna College, the first accredited Muslim Liberal Arts College in the United States. (His co-founders were Zaid Shakir and Hamza Yusuf.) During his academic career, Bazian has taught courses on such subjects as Islam, Islamic Law, Sufism, Arabic, Middle Eastern Studies, Islam in America, and Islamophobia.
Born in the West Bank city of Nablus, Bazian attended high school in Amman, Jordan. He then immigrated to the United States and earned bachelor’s degrees in (a) International Relations and (b) Speech & Communication at San Francisco State University (SFSU). He subsequently received an M.A. in International Relations, also from SFSU, in the late 1980s.
During that same time period, Bazian was elected president of SFSU’s Associated Students and its Student Union Governing Board. He also became president of the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), which, under Bazian’s leadership in late 1987—when the First Palestinian Intifada was in high gear—rejected an invitation from SFSU’s Jewish Student Action Committee (JSAC) to forge a local “peace treaty.” JSAC endorsed a two-state solution for peace in the Middle East, involving a land exchange similar to that which eventually would be proposed under the Oslo Agreement. But GUPS emphatically opposed such a plan.
At the national conference of the United States Student Association (USSA) held at UC Berkeley in 1988, Bazian co-led a large-scale walkout that ultimately caused the organization to adopt a resolution mandating that at least half of its board-of-directors’ members thenceforth should be “students of color.”
In the late Eighties, Bazian was elected as a chairman of the National People of Color Student Coalition and an executive board member of the USSA. In both of those roles, he became an outspoken advocate of affirmative action, the Central American Solidarity Movement (which supported communism in that region of the world), and anti-(South African) apartheid activism on college campuses. Bazian also authored resolutions, which the USSA national conference adopted in 1991, calling for: (a) cuts to American aid to Israel, and (b) the imposition of sanctions against the United States for selling military equipment to South Africa.
Bazian continued to actively support Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel groups at SFSU throughout the early 1990s. As his influence on campus grew, Jewish students reported that Bazian was helping to foment a palpable climate of hate which was contributing to a rising number of anti-Semitic incidents. Among other things, Bazian was openly hostile toward Hillel, the leading Jewish campus group in America. He once blocked the appointment of a Jewish student to SFSU’s Student Judicial Council, on grounds that the individual supported the state of Israel and was therefore, by definition, a racist. And on another occasion, Bazian, angered by the fact that some Jewish students had complained about his unbridled anti-Semitism, participated in an assault on the offices of the Golden Gater student newspaper, which Bazian claimed was a haven for Jewish spies.
In July 1992, when Bazian was still a USSA executive board member, he endorsed the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism‘s national conference which was held at UC Berkeley.
Beginning in April 1993, Bazian worked a brief stint as editor-in-chief of Discourse Magazine, a monthly progressive publication based in San Francisco.
When a local artist in May 1994 defaced the SFSU Student Union building with a mural of the late Malcolm X‘s face surrounded by dollar signs, Stars of David, and skulls-and-crossbones, Bazian organized a press conference inside that very building to voice support for the mural. Jewish students were forcibly excluded from the event.
By 1995 Bazian was a graduate student at UC Berkeley, where he headed the campus’s Muslim Students Association (MSA), whose national umbrella organization — the Muslim Students Association of the U.S. and Canada — was an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Terrorism expert and author Steven Emerson, in his book American Jihad, quotes Bazian sermonizing at a May 1999 American Muslim Alliance conference where he advocated the creation of an Islamic State Of Palestine and the slaughter of Jews. Excerpts from the quote read: “In the Hadith, the Day of Judgment will never happen until you fight the Jews. They are on the west side of the river, which is the Jordan River, and you’re on the east side until the trees and stones will say, ‘oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him!’ And that’s in the Hadith about this, this is a future battle before the Day of Judgment.”
During his years with MSA, Bazian grew to believe that the organization’s open identification as a Muslim entity hampered its efforts to inspire widespread student interest and involvement. Thus in 2001 he co-founded the broader Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which addressed not only what were perceived to be Muslim concerns, but also a pressing human-rights issue that purportedly merited the attention of all socially conscious young people. SJP presented itself as a secular social-justice group whose agenda just happened, coincidentally, to mirror that of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In the aftermath of 9/11, Bazian co-hosted Islam Today, a weekly California radio program devoted to Muslim issues around the world.
Bazian received his Ph.D. in Philosophy and Islamic Studies from UC Berkeley in 2002, and then began lecturing there almost immediately.
On April 9, 2002, seventy-nine SJP members were arrested for having forcibly occupied (for five hours) the UC Berkeley campus’s Wheeler Hall building. Their action coincided with a Holocaust Day of Remembrance that is observed annually according to the Hebrew calendar. At a subsequent demonstration to protest their arrests, Bazian alluded to what he perceived to be the existence of a behind-the-scenes Jewish power play: “Take a look at the type of names on the buildings around campus—Haas, Zellerbach—and decide who controls this university.”
In May 2002 Bazian was the sole speaker at a two-day Middle Eastern “cultural assembly” at San Francisco’s George Washington High School—an event whose rhetoric was so inflammatory that it generated formal letters of apology from the school administration to the public. The proceedings featured, for instance, a student singing a rap song that compared Zionists to Nazis while other students paraded with Palestinian flags in the background.
In October 2002 at the University of Michigan’s annual Palestine Solidarity Movement conference, Bazian shared the stage with revisionist historian Ilan Pappé and then-Florida Atlantic University professor Sami Al-Arian, who would later be incarcerated for his fundraising activities on behalf of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In the course of his remarks, Bazian said that pro-Israeli factions frequently tried to silence pro-Palestinian groups by lauding Israel as a “democracy” and accusing the Palestinians of “anti-Semitism”:
“They draw parallels to the U.S. in order to neutralize the American public from examining what’s going on. Being a democracy is not immunity from oppression and exclusion. South Africa was a democracy for whites, but not for everyone else. Democracy is the code word for suspending intellectual examination. With anti-Semitism, they’ve closed the door for entry for someone who will be able to speak about the Palestinian struggle. [Anti-Semitism is thus] used as a means of neutralizing the opposition so the mainstream American public will distance itself from the ‘extremists.'”
At an April 10, 2004 anti-war rally in San Francisco, Bazian issued what appeared to be a call for violence against the United States. In a loud exchange with his raucous audience, three times he shouted, “Are you angry?!” And three times the attendees replied, “Yeah!” Then Bazian said:
“Well, we’ve been watching [an] Intifada in Palestine, we’ve been watching an uprising in Iraq, and the question is that what are we doing? How come we don’t have an Intifada in this country? Because it seem[s] to me, that we are comfortable in where we are, watching CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox, and all these mainstream … giving us a window to the world while the world is being managed from Washington, from New York, from every other place in here in San Francisco: Chevron, Bechtel, [Carlyle?] Group, Halliburton; every one of those lying, cheating, stealing, deceiving individuals are in our country and we’re sitting here and watching the world pass by, people being bombed, and it’s about time that we have an Intifada in this country that change[s] fundamentally the political dynamics in here. And we know … they’re gonna say some Palestinian [is] being too radical. Well, you haven’t seen radicalism yet!”
At the same event, a Catholic priest addressing the crowd issued pronouncements “in the name of Allah.” Signs were sold proclaiming, “Support Armed Resistence [sic] in Iraq and Everywhere,” next to tomes of Karl Marx, Leon Trotsky, and Che Guevara. One student marcher carried a sign saying “Long Live Fallujah” (the hub of intense and deadly Iraqi violence against U.S. troops), while another held aloft an effigy of President George W. Bush hanging from a noose.
In the immediate post-Saddam Hussein era, Bazian spoke at numerous MSA events denouncing the Iraq War and blaming Israel for American foreign-policy decisions. In February 2004 at McGill University in Montreal, he gave an MSA-sponsored lecture titled, “The New American Empire and its Adventures in the Middle East.” In this address, Bazian cited neo-conservative think tanks, “Israel-centric” public officials in the Bush Administration, the Christian Right, and the oil industry as the four major forces that were driving American policy overseas. “The New York conservatives wanted to make the Middle East a safe neighborhood, but not for Arabs,” said Bazian. “They wanted to make it a safe neighborhood for Israel.”
In 2006 Bazian published the book Jerusalem in Islamic Consciousness.
In the spring of 2009, Bazian founded and became director of the Center for the Study and Documentation of Islamophobia (CSDI), a program of UC Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender. Bazian himself headed a major CSDI initiative, the “Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project,” which was rooted in the premise that “Muslims in the U.S., parts of Europe, and around the world have been transformed into a demonized and feared global ‘other,’ subjected to legal, social, and political discrimination.”
Bazian is an endorser of the Israel Divestment Campaign and a signatory to the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Moreover, he is active in the “Israel Apartheid Week” (IAW) movement, which describes itself as “an international series of events that seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinians and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” In March 2010, Bazian spoke at a UC Irvine IAW gathering co-sponsored by the Muslim Student Union and the Middle East Studies Student Initiative.
On October 26, 2010 at UC Berkeley, Bazian delivered the introduction for a BDS event titled “What Can American Academia Do to Realize Justice for Palestinians?”—sponsored by the campus chapter of SJP. In the course of his remarks, Bazian made reference to Israel as a practitioner of “apartheid” similar to that which had once existed in South Africa.
In early 2011, Bazian established and set into motion a national speaking tour titled “Never Again for Anyone.” Its purpose was to liken the Holocaust of the 1930s and ’40s to the Arab-Israeli conflict of today—with Israelis cast as modern-day Nazis, and “Never Again” transformed into a Palestinian mantra. This speaking tour made its way around the United States from January 25 through February 19, 2011.
At one appearance on the tour, Bazian himself shared the stage with Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah and Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer. The three of them together draw parallels between “the on-going ethnic cleansing of Palestine” on the one hand, and “attacks and persecution of Muslim and Arab communities in the … U.S. and Canada,” on the other. Among the sponsors of this event were American Muslims for Palestine, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, the Middle East Children’s Alliance, and Students for Justice in Palestine. Moreover, the event was endorsed by the International Socialist Organization, the International Solidarity Movement, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Palestine Solidarity Group, and Sabeel.
On May 2, 2012, Bazian appeared in a Youtube video where he identified pro-Israel advocates as the principal sources of Islamophobia in the United States, a notion that Bazian routinely advances on social media.
Shortly after the Islamic terrorists Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev detonated a deadly bomb near the finish-line of the Boston Marathon in April 2013, Bazian wrote that while the perpetrators had certainly “committed horrific crimes,” equally offensive was the fact that “the Islamophobic machine” had subsequently “committed crimes against our collective consciousness by exploiting the [resultant] suffering and pain of our fellow citizens” and “inflam[ing] the minds of an already panicked people.” “What we are facing at present,” Bazian continued, “is … [an] Islamophobic media campaign” designed “to ensure an environment where no one is safe so long as a Muslim is walking amongst us; where a mosque is simply headquarters radical violence; [and] where Muslim families are breeding grounds for new terrorists.”
In a December 2013 article published by AlJazeera.com, Bazian accused Israel of having poisoned the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat to death. “The execution warrant can be traced to [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon, Israel, and the host of players in the new Arab order that have too much invested to worry about the life of one old man or Palestine for that matter,” wrote Bazian.
In March 2014, Bazian participated in a “Voices for Justice & Peace in the Holy Land” conference sponsored by the Friends of Sabeel – North America. Specifically, he led a workshop titled “American Muslims and the Palestinian Struggle for Liberation,” which focused on the alleged connection between “Islamophobia,” counterterrorism, and the pro-Israel movement. Bazian also outlined the specific efforts that his organization American Muslims for Palestine was planning in order to “put Palestine back on the agenda”—i.e., anti-Israel ad campaigns, “Nakba” commemorations, and “coalition building” with such anti-Israel groups as Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine. Moreover, Bazian noted that “we are designing a curriculum for use in 475 Muslim schools to address Palestinian issues.”
At the same March 2014 event, Bazian:
- claimed that the American culture had been infected by a coordinated effort to “demonize Muslims and create a reflexive hate, and [to] keep them out of civil society”;
- accused “pro-Israeli groups” of being among the “major Islamophobic producers” in the United States;
- charged that their prime objective was to shut down all “debate” on “the Palestinian issue”; and
- singled out Investigative Project on Terrorism founder Steven Emerson and Middle East Forum president Daniel Pipes as leading figures in the “Islamophobia industry.”
Also in March 2014, Bazian participated in a UC Berkeley panel discussion titled “Shooting Rampage in Paris: Free Speech, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Religion, Islamophobia.” The event was intended to “start a dialog” on the root causes of two January terrorist attacks that had killed a combined 16 Parisians in a kosher supermarket and the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine. In the course of his remarks, Bazian: (a) devoted the majority of his attention not to Islamic terrorism, but to the alleged scourge of “Islamophobia”; (b) asserted that the “broader Muslim community in Europe feels like it’s under siege,” in part because “their inclusion and integration is predicated on their accepting to be insulted to be part of civil society”; (c) claimed that there had been a wave of “unreported” acts of “violence across the continent directed at Muslims”; (d) charged that job and police discrimination against European Muslims was akin to the “unequal treatment” that “African-Americans in this country [the United States] face”; and (e) said that “Muslims have been used as the patsies to deport two and a half million Latinos under [Presidents] Bush and Obama,” in their purported quest to “protect an imagined America that no longer exists.” Suggesting also that Islamic extremism was a response to objectionable U.S. foreign policies, Bazian said: “Why is it we have such radicalization in Europe? Is it because Muslims woke up and a DNA was activated within them, a radicalization DNA? Or is it a long history of instrumentalizing Muslims for a particular distorted global warfare?”
On July 20, 2014—a time when Israel was engaged in a large-scale military operation designed to degrade the weapons stockpile and infrastructure of the Gaza-based terror group Hamas—Bazian addressed a crowd of pro-Palestinian demonstrators at the San Francisco Civic Center. He condemned Israel’s “aggression” but said nothing about the fact that the conflict had been sparked by Hamas’s decision to launch large numbers of potentially deadly rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel. Bazian went on to suggest that more than 2 million African Americans (a gross exaggeration) were incarcerated in U.S. prisons for no reason other than their dark skin, and he condemned the United States for heartlessly deporting too many illegal aliens. The crowd then began chanting, “Allahu Akhbar” (“God Is Great”).
On a separate occasion, Bazian said: “We need to make a link between what is taking place today in Palestine and the whole transnational, anti-colonial, anti-slavery, and anti-oppression struggle…. You need to understand the link of Israel to what’s taking place in Latin America…. Israel was helping the death squads and training them.”
At an anti-Israel rally in San Francisco on July 26, 2014, Bazian accused Israel of committing “genocide” and stated that “we need to give them [American political leaders] [a] genetic mutation and constitute a Palestinian spine for them…. we need to harass them.”
In August 2014 Bazian announced that an “International Day of Action” (IDA) calling for a complete academic and cultural boycott of Israel, would be held on the UC Berkeley campus on September 23—the Eve before the Jewish New Year. Under the slogan “Free Palestine and End the Siege on Gaza,” this IDA event was slated to feature the use of teach-ins, rallies, sit-ins, civil disobedience, and “support for BDS activities” as means of drawing public attention to the Israeli transgressions of “apartheid” and “occupation.”
On November 6, 2014, Bazian tweeted in support of the Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh, writing: “#Justice4Rasmea From the LA-8 case to targeting Ramsea we can see a clear paradigmatic process for silencing Palestine in the US.”
On July 13, 2015, Bazian tweeted: “‘Gaza: an epistemic Warsaw Ghetto but only different Semites are locked-up this time around.’”
In his October 2015 column in the Daily Sabah, Bazian maintained that Jews should not be permitted to pray at Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, which is also the location of Islam’s sacred Al-Aksa Mosque. Accusing Jews of secretly wishing to desecrate or destroy the site, Bazian wrote: “Zionist settlers and those wanting to build the third temple are asking to share in what they are hoping to destroy. A bully stealing lunch money in the schoolyard can hardly qualify as an act of sharing, despite the fact that children will often let go of their valuables when threatened. Weekly, and sometimes daily, racist settlers enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound fully protected by the Israeli military demanding in a grotesque manner to share the area. Bullying Palestinians to surrender their religious site, Al-Aqsa Mosque, under the rubric of sharing is an insult to generosity and its people.”
In the aftermath of a series of coordinated Islamic State terrorist attacks that killed at least 129 civilians in Paris in November 2015, Bazian accused American politicians of inserting “a heavy dose of Islamophobia and ‘clash of civilizations’ venom” into “public opinion” following the carnage. Moreover, he asserted that “terrorism is a tactic that has no religious identity.”
In a December 11, 2016 Youtube video, Bazian claimed that European Zionists had “accepted anti-Semitism as the norm,” and he condemned Zionist Jews in Europe for pursuing national liberation rather than confronting Hitler and the Nazis.
On June 3, 2017, Bazian tweeted: “Israel provoked the Six-Day War in 1967, and it was not fighting for survival.”
In July 2017, Bazian retweeted an anti-Semitic meme which plays on classic tropes of Jewish blood libel and also compares Jews to the Nazis. The meme was originally tweeted by infamous anti-Semite Ron Hughes, whose account Bazian followed. It featured a photo of a Jewish man with Hasidic-style curls, accompanied by the quoted statement: “MOM LOOK! I IS CHOSEN! I CAN NOW KILL, RAPE, SMUGGLE ORGANS & AND STEAL THE LAND OF PALESTINIANS *YAY* ASHKE-NAZI”
In October 2017, Bazian was a plenary speaker at SJP’s National Conference, an event that emphasized the need to strengthen “collaborative efforts within all regions to pass BDS” and pursue “pathways to achieving sanctions in the future.”
On October 13, 2017, Bazian tweeted in support of the Palestinian terrorist Ahmed Manasrah, who had participated in a 2015 stabbing spree in Jerusalem.
On December 24, 2017, Bazian authored an article denying the notion that Jerusalem was the rightful capital of Israel. He said that the city was “the occupied capital of Palestine and is, at the core, a Palestinian Arab city, pure and simple!”
On May 15, 2018, Bazian tweeted: “Fact: The Israeli army massacred 58 unarmed Palestinian civilians on Monday May 14th, 2018” — the day on which thousands of Palestinians protesting the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, had tried to storm and destroy a border fence between Gaza and Israel. But Bazian’s tweet was entirely false. On May 16, 2018, Hamas acknowledged that 50 of its own operatives were among those 58 dead, while PIJ stated that 3 of its own members were likewise among those killed. In short, no more than 5 of the 58 dead were actually civilians unaffiliated with a terrorist organization.
Bazian retweeted a May 27, 2018 tweet and a July 11, 2018 tweet claiming that Israel had turned Gaza into a “concentration camp.” He likewise retweeted a September 23, 2018 tweet from a Mondoweiss article that accused Israeli Jews of having become modern-day Nazis: “The Jewish collective memory demanded a vengeful response to the Holocaust. The Nazis deserved some taste of what we had experienced at their hands. We were not able to achieve that satisfaction. We displaced those feelings on to the Palestinians.”
Bazian was featured in an October 1, 2018 Facebook video where he claimed that in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Israel tried to foment “internal tensions” in Arab countries like Iraq and Egypt in an effort “to create the perception that Jews in there are not secure.”
In a December 17, 2018 opinion piece, Bazian claimed: “Palestinians face real and substantiated acts of genocide and never-ending documented war crimes daily…”
Apart from his work at UC Berkeley and Zaytuna College, Bazian has also taught at Berkeley Graduate Theological Union, San Francisco State University, Diablo Valley College, Saint Mary’s College of California, and UC Davis.
Over the years, Bazian also has served as:
- national board chair of American Muslims for Palestine, which he co-founded in 2005;
- a board of directors member of the Muslim Legal Fund of America, which filed a motion to vacate the prison sentences of the five convicted Holy Land Foundation-affiliated defendants in late 2013;
- a steering committee member of UC Berkeley’s Religion, Politics and Globalization Program, whose professed mission is “to create an intellectual space where scholars from the humanities and social sciences can come together to share and deepen their understanding of the role of religion in world affairs”;
- director of the Berkeley-based Al-Qalam Institute of Islamic Sciences, which seeks to establish a systematic method for the study of Islam and to encourage action consistent with the mandates of the faith; and
- editor-in-chief of the Islamophobia Studies Journal, which he founded.
A CampusWatch.org profile of Bazian notes that “in his academic work,” the professor “declares himself to be an ‘organic intellectual,’ a term he feels will directly connect his research to the people, rather than looking down from the ivory tower.” The term “organic,” in this sense, derives from the work of the famed Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, who emphasized the need for intellectuals to speak about social life not merely in the sterile vernacular of scientific rules and formulas, but rather, in terms that give voice to the feelings and experiences which the masses are unable to express for themselves.
One of Bazian’s more noteworthy colleagues on the UC Berkeley campus is Professor Hamid Algar.
- “Nakba” is the Arabic word for “Catastrophe,” which is how the enemies of Israel characterize the 1948 founding of the Jewish state.