Katherine Franke is the Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University and author of the forthcoming Repair: Redeeming the Promise of Abolition. (December 2018)

Follow Katherine Franke on Twitter: @ProfKFranke.


Making Good on the Broken Promise of Reparations

African Americans preparing cotton for the gin on Smith’s plantation, Port Royal Island, South Carolina, 1861–1862

Even during the Civil War, Union military and political leaders who were directly responsible for stewarding black people from enslavement into their new lives as freed people felt strongly that slavery was an atrocity and a theft that required compensation. Reparations were understood as both a remedy for the rape, torture, death, and destruction of millions of human souls, and a measure that recognized that freedom without material resources would lock black people into second-class status for generations to come. Promises made to freed people in 1865 that they would receive land—as reparations for their enslavement and the leg-up they needed to start their lives anew—were never honored.

Israel and Academic Freedom: An Exchange

US student Lara Alqasem at a court hearing in Tel Aviv after her detention on arrival in Israel by the authorities on the grounds that she supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, October 17, 2018

Kenneth Waltzer and Mark G. Yudolf: The most ludicrous claim by Franke is that anti-Israel advocates on campuses are being disrupted and “purged.” There is virtually no example of an anti-Israel speaker being silenced by protesters. Criticized, yes, but not silenced. Katherine Franke: I imagine that Swarthmore Professor of Peace Studies Sa’ed Atshan would disagree. A speech he was invited to give at a Quaker school in Philadelphia was cancelled after some Jewish parents objected to his views on Israel. Not only that, the teachers who invited him were fired.

The Pro-Israel Push to Purge US Campus Critics

Palestinians riding a donkey-drawn cart past a mural calling for a boycott of Israel, Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip, 2016

The US Department of Education recently adopted a new definition of anti-Semitism, one that equates any criticism of Israel with a hatred of Jews. Watching how Temple University leaders failed to defend Professor Marc Lamont Hill when the pro-Zionist right went after him, I wonder: Will Columbia University stand up for the academic freedom of its faculty when these same forces recruit the Department of Education to accuse Columbia’s instructors of anti-Semitism because we teach and write critically about the policies of the Israeli government?