A Kent State University history professor is under fire for shouting “Death to Israel” at a former Israeli diplomat after asking him heated questions about his country’s role in the deaths of Palestinian children and babies during a Q&A session.
Professor Julio Pino, a tenured associate professor of history at Kent State, made his statement following an exchange with Ishmael Khaldi, former deputy consul general at the Israeli consulate in San Francisco, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer
Khaldi — a Muslim — was at Kent State Tuesday to speak about his rise from a small Bedouin village to the Israeli Foreign Service.
The atmosphere at the lecture became strained when Pino posed the first question after the speech, asking Khaldi how he and the Israeli government justify providing aid to countries with blood money that came from the deaths of Palestinian children and babies.
Khaldi reportedly tried to move on to another questioner but Pino made further comments against Israel then shouted "Death to Israel" as he left, a student leader said.
Kent State President Lester Lefton said Pino had a right to pose his provocative question, but said his decision to shout “death to Israel” at Khaldi was deplorable.
“We value critical thinking at this university and encourage students to engage with ideas that they find difficult or make them uncomfortable,” Lefton said. “We hope that our faculty will always model how best to combine passion for one's position with respect for those with whom we disagree. Calling for the destruction of the state from which our guest comes (as do some of our students, faculty and community members) is a grotesque failure to model these values.”
Tuesday’s incident wasn’t Pino’s first anti-Israeli activity while he has been working at Kent State. In 2003, he wrote a column in the Kent State newspaper exploring the motives of a Palestinian suicide bomber, and in 2007 was cited on websites as being linked to an extremist Islamic website that espouses a holy war, the Plain Dealer said Thursday.
Kent State officials have denied the extremist site has a connection to Pino or to the university.
Faculty Senate member Donald Hassler, who chairs the Kent State English department said Thursday Pino is very opinionated, but needs to speak with civility.
"What he said was pretty hateful,” said Hassler. “He realizes that he lost control."
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