- Professor of Near Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley
- Anti-Israel activist
Born and raised in a Jewish family in Israel, Rutie Adler serves as Coordinator of the Hebrew program at UC Berkeley, where she has taught language, literature, cinema, and linguistics courses in the Department of Near Eastern Studies since 1986. She is the author of two books: the Anaphoric and Deictic Reference in Israeli Hebrew (1986), and Zeh Lo Nora—Reference Book for Students of Hebrew (2006).
Adler was a signatory to the 2002 “University of California Faculty Petition for Divestment from Israel,” which called on UC schools to stop investing in corporations that conducted significant amounts of business with the Jewish state. In particular, the petition condemned Israel for its “human rights abuses against Palestinians,” its “continual military occupation and colonization of Palestinian territory,” and its “forcible … demolition of Palestinian homes, towns and cities.”
In April 2002, Adler said there was no conflict-of-interest in her dual roles as professor and political activist. “Anybody who says a professor is supposed to be neutral,” she explained, “is supporting whatever the common [prevailing] ideology is. If you don’t voice an opinion about what is happening in Israel and Palestine now, you are supporting what is happening.”
In the early 2000s Adler signed yet another petition, titled “A Call to Bring the Settlers Home to Israel,” which was drafted by Brit Tzedek v’Shalom—later known as the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace—a group advocating the removal of all Jews from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In October 2002, Adler reacted angrily to Harvard president Lawrence Summers’s assertion that University petitions demanding divestiture from Israel were “anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.” Characterizing Summers’s remarks as “slander,” Adler charged that “the State of Israel continues to violate the human rights of three million Palestinians in the occupied territories”; said it was absurd to label anyone as anti-Semitic “for calling attention to this injustice”; and declared that “our call for economic divestment from Israel is entirely appropriate” because the Israeli government—guilty of committing “daily atrocities … in the name of Jews”—“receives billions of dollars each year from the United States.”
In 2005 Adler signed a petition in support of Tali Fahima, a female Palestinian activist whom Israeli authorities had recently incarcerated because of her collaboration, in May 2004, with Zakaria Zubeidi, the Jenin-based leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade—the armed wing of the Fatah movement. Specifically, Fahima had pledged to serve as a human shield for Zubeidi, with whom she also engaged in a sexual affair.
In subsequent years, Adler turned a blind eye to Hamas terrorists in Gaza as they launched thousands of missiles into southern Israeli communities. But when Israel finally responded militarily to the incessant attacks, Adler was quick to sign a petition calling for an immediate ceasefire.
In the latter 2000s, Adler participated in fundraisers on behalf of the Free Gaza Movement and the Northern California chapter of the International Solidarity Movement. The aim of both entities was to put an end to Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza seaport—a blockade that had been implemented in 2007 to prevent Hamas terrorists from continuing to import weaponry from their allies in Iran and elsewhere.
Adler’s contempt for Israel is mirrored by her hatred for the United States, which she views as the Jewish state’s principal partner-in-crime. “If the American government treated Israel as they treat Iraq with all their misbehavior,” she said in 2002, “maybe we would have peace in Palestine by now.” Citing inequitable U.S. policies as the chief causes of anti-American sentiment around the world, Adler said in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks: “It’s a horrible tragedy. But as Americans, maybe it will make us look at ourselves. We should realize that this is happening to people other places in the world all the time. … Are we so arrogant as a country that we can’t think what we have done for years and years to make other individuals hate us so much?”