Wadie Said is the target of an attempt by pro-Israeli groups to block his appointment at the WSU Law School in Detroit
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire Photo File.
PANW Editor's Note: The son of the late Edward Said of Columbia University in New York is a candidate for a faculty position at Wayne State University's Law School in Detroit. A pro-Zionist organization is attempting to smear and slander Wadie Said so that he is not allowed to accept this position. WSU is located in Detroit which has the largest population of peoples of Middle-Eastern descent in the United States. The pro-Zionist groups know that the Negro President of WSU Irvin Reid is a staunch supporter of the racist state of Israel. Reid has rejected outright any discussion of divesting university funds from corporations doing business in the Israeli state despite two major campaigns by WSU students aimed at divestment within the last three years. In 2003 the WSU student government voted to divest from Israel. Reid refused to accept this recommendation from the student body. Despite the nearly sixty-year occupation of Palestine and the aggressive policies on the part of Israel against Lebanon in July and August, Reid continues to express unconditional support for the settler-colonial state of Zionist Israel. Such views are totally out of line with the political sentiments in existence in the Detroit metropolitan area. WSU would be much better off without the likes of an Irvin Reid, who would be more at home presiding over a university someplace else other than the city of Detroit.
Son of Late Scholar Edward Said Faces Attacks By Pro-Israeli Groups in Attempt to Sabatoge Law Faculty Appointment
Friends: Please write letters in support of Wadie Said, the son of the late Edward Said, as the opposition has begun a smear campaign against his candidacy for professorship at our very own Wayne State University Law school here in Michigan. Pass the info to your lists. Write letters to:
firstname.lastname@example.org, (WSU President Irvin Reid)
email@example.com (Law School Dean Frank Wu)
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2006 15:26:00 EST
Subject: Fwd: Wadie Said
I sent the below letter to Dean Wu of Wayne State Law School, President Reid of Wayne State University, and the ADC. Please pass the word. Wadie Said, son of the late famed Palestinian historian, Edward Said, is a candidate for a position as professor at Wayne State Law School. The radical pro-Israel group, StandWithUs has predictably begun a slanderous smear campaign against him. The allegations levied against him can be found here:
Indeed, the allegations of his support for terrorism and his wish to destroy Israel are unfounded. We must not allow StandWithUs and groups like them StandInTheWay of qualified candidates such as Mr. Said. He would be a great asset to Wayne Law.
Please read over the below email, and pass it on to all those who would be interested. Thanks.
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2006 15:21:41 EST
Subject: Wadie Said
Dear President Reid,
Hope all is well. This email is to express my displeasure at the recent slanderous comments made by StandWithUs, here: http://www.standwithus.com/news_post.asp?NPI=1029 against the candidacy of Wadie Said for a position as professor at Wayne Law. The substance of all that they say, even if true, does not amount to a condemnation of Mr. Said that should disqualify him from consideration. However, StandWithUs frames their argument in the context of Mr. Said as a radical Islamic terrorist. The charges are preposterous.
Furthermore, the letter attempts to paint Mr. Said as unqualified for the position. For instance:
Said's lack of expertise is particularly worrisome given that he told students he would like to teach courses on immigration and Islamic Law as well as criminal law, the course for which he would be hired. Judging from his resume, Said has no scholarly expertise in these fields and it is not clear why a public, state supported University would teach religious law or dedicate a class to the law of one religion while ignoring the legal systems of other religions.
Mr. Said never said he would oppose any type of religious law being taught at Wayne. In fact, various Wayne Students have told me that they have taken classes on religious law as guests at other law schools. We would be well-advised to bring in experts in areas of religious law, particularly Islamic law, as interest on the subject is soaring, as can be implicitly concluded from the strength of StandWithUs's arguments against the subject.
However, Mr. Said's resume does not reflect StandWithUs's condemnation of his professional abilities nor his experience. He is arguably more qualified than other candidates being interviewed by Wayne. It seems that the major problem StandWithUs has against Mr. Said is that he is his father's son. Indeed, they admit as much with:
Supportive of his father's legacy of "post-colonial," "Orientalist"
slander against Israel, Said advocates extremist Palestinian positions that threaten Israel's existence. He ardently calls for the Palestinians' "right of return." The purpose of the "right of return" is to destroy Israel demographically.
However, what they perceive as a weakness on Mr. Said's part is probably a great asset. Edward Said is respected as THE source on the Palestine/Israel conflict from the Palestinian viewpoint. Charges of anti-Semitism have only ever been levied against him by the most radical elements of the pro-Israel lobby. Indeed, many of his colleagues and friends, including Noam Chomsky, were Jewish.
Furthermore, the vague and bizarre idea presented by StandWithUs, that Mr. Said supports a right of return for Palestinians in order to fulfil some secret wish to "destroy Israel" is unfounded. Holding this view, more importantly, does not make Mr. Said any less qualified for the position.
The following statements by StandWithUs perhaps best indicate their alarmist and paranoid views on Mr. Said:
More alarming is Said's equivocation about "armed resistance," which many refer to as terrorism. Pressed to clarify his views during the student interview, Said claimed that "certain types of activities, certain types of actions—armed actions—are not murder and they are not terrorism." He argued that "armed resistance" has a "legitimate basis" in international law, thereby implicitly justifying terrorism by Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations that regularly call for the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel.
Mr. Said is right on point, at least from an international law perspective. Armed resistance against tyranny is a fundamental human right. The Founding Fathers of this nation would agree with that principle. In fact, they encapsulated this right in the Second Amendment of our own Constitution. It is telling that StandWithUs would thereby link Mr. Said with terrorism, when he never even mentioned the groups above, let alone indicate that he supports them.
The fact that StandWithUs has put forth such a strongly-worded yet substance-lacking condemnation of Mr. Said is a clear indication that what Wayne really needs is a professor with his qualifications and viewpoints to put right all the wrong information groups like StandWithUs tirelessly disseminate.
As a minority university president, I'm sure you can appreciate all of the hoops minorities sometimes have to jump through to be recognized in our society. With the passing of Proposal 2, it is now perhaps the most important time in our history to give minorities a fair shot. The condemnations put forth by StandWithUs, if believed, will not allow that.
I certainly appreciate any time you spend mulling over this email. Please be advised that I will forward this letter to the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and other civil rights groups.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me.
Co-President, Wayne State Middle East Law Students Association
President, Wayne State Business Law Society
Assistant Editor, Wayne Law Review
Cell: (313) 525-1088
“The Palestinian Refugees’ Right of Return Under International Law,”
by Wadie Said
6 April 2000—The principle of a “right of return” for the Palestinians who became refugees in 1948 and 1967 is premised on the notion that they should be allowed to return to their areas of origin, even if such areas are currently within the state of Israel. This is among the most controversial issues in the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel continues to refuse to repatriate the Palestinian refugees, claiming that they fled of their own accord in 1948 and that it is under no obligation to take them back.
UN Resolution 194:
The clearest and most direct piece of international law that affirms the right of the Palestinian refugees to be repatriated is Article 11 of UN General Assembly Resolution 194, ratified on 11 December 1948. Vis-à-vis the situation in Palestine, the General Assembly declared that:
“the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for the loss of or damage to property which, under the principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”
The resolution also created the Conciliation Commission for Palestine, which it instructed to “facilitate” the aforementioned purpose. This resolution has been affirmed by the General Assembly over 40 times (most recently in General Assembly Resolution 45/73 of 11 December 1990), and represents the strongest claim under international law for the inalienable rights of repatriation available to the Palestinian refugees. Its language is clear and exacting, yet its goal remains as far from realization as the day the resolution was enacted.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Articulating several principles upheld by Resolution 194 and applying them on a universal scale, the Declaration states in Article 13(2) that “[e]veryone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his own country.” In a similar vein, Article 17(2) declares that “[n]o one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.” These provisions would seem to support the contention that the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 hostilities should be allowed to repatriate. Although, strictly speaking, the Declaration is not legally binding upon the member states of the UN, it effectively articulates the standards through which stateless Palestinian refugees can make a plausible case for their own repatriation.
Fourth Geneva Convention:
Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 provides more legal authority for the Palestinian refugees’ case. Israel has signed and ratified the Convention, and therefore its provisions can be construed as applicable, even retroactively, to the events of 1947-48. Article 49 states that “[i]ndividual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.” Since Israel has actually carried out such mass population transfers of Palestinian refugees by means of force and psychological warfare, it stands in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
While there is no explicit language in the Convention regarding its retroactive application, the expulsion of the Palestinian refugees from their homeland represents a violation of the spirit and letter of international law articulated repeatedly prior, during, and after the war of 1948. Article 49 of the Convention embodies the opinion of the international community regarding persons displaced during war, and further buttresses international opinion on the right of return of the Palestinian refugees as enunciated by UN Resolution 194.
The official Israeli position disputes the legality of the Palestinian claim based on UN Resolution 194. It blames the Arab states for generating the Palestinian refugee problem, arguing that they ordered the refugees to flee so that Arab armies could liberate Palestine from the Zionists in 1948. Furthermore, Israel says that it could never accept the Palestinian right of return because it would fundamentally alter the Jewish character of the Israeli state.
With the new wave of Israeli “revisionist” historians uncovering more material on the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem, it has become clear that the mass flight of Palestinian civilians from Mandate Palestine was a strategic goal of the founders of Israel. The myth of Arab responsibility for the evacuation of the Palestinians has been debunked, and yet the Israeli government still adheres steadfastly to its position and refuses to allow the repatriation of the Palestinian refugees. Regarding Israel’s argument about preserving the Jewish character of the state, two scholars have noted that “[t]he United Nations is under no more of a legal obligation to maintain Zionism in Israel than it is to maintain apartheid in South Africa” (W. Thomas Mallison & Sally V. Mallison, The Palestine Problem in International Law and World Order, 1986).
The Oslo Process:
Unfortunately, the principles articulated by the international community in UN Resolution 194 regarding the Palestinian refugees’ right to return have been theoretically suspended by the language of two agreements signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO): the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (known as the DOP or the Oslo Accord, signed on 13 September 1993) and the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip (known as Oslo II, signed on 28 September 1995).
The former declares the intent of both parties to reach a permanent settlement on the basis of UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. Resolution 242 calls on Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in the 1967 war, as well as for a fair settlement for the Palestinian refugees. Resolution 338 merely calls for the implementation of Resolution 242 in the wake of the cease-fire that brought the hostilities of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war to a close.
The DOP also states that finding a solution for “persons displaced from the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967” will be addressed in talks conducted by a “Continuing Committee,” made up of Israel, the PLO, Jordan, and Egypt, and that “permanent status” negotiations will address the issue of refugees. Jordan agreed to similar principles vis-à-vis displaced persons in its peace treaty with Israel, while stating that the issue of refugees will be worked out in the “framework of the Multilateral Group on Refugees.”
The multilateral Refugee Working Group was established in January 1992 with the express dual purpose of facilitating the arrival of a comprehensive solution to the refugee problem and easing the refugees’ current suffering. It has made little progress in finding a permanent solution to the refugee problem.
The DOP and Oslo II explicitly omit mention of UN Resolution 194. In short, the PLO has effectively given away the Palestinians’ right of return to areas occupied by Israel in 1948. The right of return potentially will be applied only to whatever Palestinian entity exists in the West Bank and Gaza and not to areas within Israel.
The Primacy of International Law:
The right of return for the 1948 Palestinian refugees still exists according to international law. It exists despite the language of the Oslo agreements, insufficient as they are in this regard, and despite the position of the current Israeli government. Palestinian refugees should be free to seek their right to repatriation, regardless of what the PLO acquiesces to, so long as UN Resolution 194 remains in force.
Wadie Said is an attorney employed as a law clerk in the federal court system in New York. This Information Brief is based on his article, “The Palestinians in Lebanon: The Rights of the Victims of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace Process,” Columbia Human Rights Law Review 30/2 (Spring 1999). The above text may be used without permission but with proper attribution to the author and to the Palestine Center. This brief does not necessarily reflect the views of Palestine Center or The Jerusalem Fund.
This information first appeared in Information Brief No. 31, 6 April 2000.