- Professor of Near Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley
- Anti-Israel activist
Rutie Adler was born into a Jewish family on February 24, 1940 and was raised in Israel. She has taught language, literature, cinema, and linguistics courses in UC Berkeley’s Department of Near Eastern Studies since 1986. Adler also served a stint as coordinator of the Hebrew program at UC Berkeley. Moreover, she is the author of a Hebrew grammar book titled Zeh Lo Nora (2006).
In 2002 Adler was a signatory to a “University of California Faculty Petition for Divestment from Israel,” which called on all 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 eviction from and demolition of Palestinian homes, towns and cities.” Divestment from the Jewish state should continue, said the petition, until “Israel [withdraws its] armed forces from occupied territories”; “Israel’s use of legal torture [is] ended”; “Israel ceases building new settlements, and vacates existing settlements, in the Occupied Territories”; and “Israel … accepts that refugees should either be allowed to return to their former lands or else be compensated for their losses.”
In April 2002, Adler said that 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—an organization advocating the removal of all Jews from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “We call upon the United States government to urge the Israeli Government to reverse its longstanding financial inducements to Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and instead to redirect those funds to settlers who are now willing to return to Israel proper,” said the petition.
In October 2002, Adler reacted angrily to Harvard University president Lawrence Summers’s assertion that petitions demanding Harvard’s 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 January 2003, Adler was a signatory to “An Open Letter from American Jews to Our Government,” which assigned to the Israelis and Palestinians equal measures of moral culpability for the violence in the Middle East. Some key excerpts:
- “[B]oth the Israeli and Palestinian peoples have suffered great wrongs at the hands of the other, albeit in different and unequal ways; both have legitimate grievances, legitimate fears, and legitimate distrust of the other people’s willingness to compromise for the sake of peace.”
- “[C]ompromise is difficult when majorities on both sides support provocative military actions that they view as purely defensive, while powerful minorities pursue maximalist territorial aims.”
Among the solutions promoted by the aforementioned 2003 letter were:
- the creation of “two national states, Israel and Palestine, with equal sovereignty, equal rights and equal responsibilities”
- “partition along the pre-1967 border as modified only by minor mutually agreed territorial swaps”
- “Israeli evacuation of all settlements in the occupied territories except those within the agreed swapped areas”
- “Palestinian and Arab recognition of Israel and renunciation of any further territorial claims”
- “Palestinian acceptance of negotiated limitations on the ‘right of return‘ in exchange for financial compensation for refugees”
“The U.S. bears a special responsibility for the current tragic impasse,” added the letter, “by virtue of our massive economic and military support for the Israeli government…. [W]e call on our government to make continued aid conditional on Israeli acceptance of an internationally agreed two-state settlement.”
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 allegedly 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 2006, Adler lent her name to “A Statement in Support of Open and Free Discussion about U.S. and Israeli Foreign Policy and Against Suppression of Speech,” which voiced support for the anti-Israel views of Professors Tony Judt, John Mearsheimer, and Stephen Walt.
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 September 11, 2001 terrorist 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?”
Further Reading: “Rutie Adler” (MyLife.com); “Rutie Adler” (CMES.Berkeley.edu); “Lecturer in Hebrew Rutie Adler Spends Her Days on Campus Urging Boycott of and Divestment from Israel” (by Lee Kaplan, 6-9-2009).