University of Toronto Professor Emeritus
(April 11, 1917 – October 1, 1999)
(October 22, 1916- March 12, 1998)
Dima Khalidi is the founder and director of Palestine Legal, a nonprofit organization that works to protect people speaking out for Palestinian freedom from concerted efforts to undermine their civil and constitutional rights.
Dima has a JD from DePaul University College of Law, an MA in International and Comparative Legal Studies from the University of London – SOAS, and a BA in History and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan. Prior to studying law, Dima worked at Birzeit University in occupied Palestine, heading a research project on the role of informal justice mechanisms in the Palestinian legal system.
Dima has advocated on Palestinian rights issues in media forums such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Democracy Now!, The Nation, Al Jazeera, In These Times, and NPR, among others.
Amid a nationwide push to curtail the teaching of institutional racism and the dark sides of US history, we can learn important lessons from another subject on which campus communities have long experienced attacks on free speech and academic freedom: Palestine. In what can only be characterized as a “Palestine Exception to free speech,” academics, students, and others who speak out for Palestinian rights are routinely falsely accused, investigated, surveilled, harassed, and sometimes suffer severe consequences to their reputations and careers. Right-wing efforts to dictate what academics can and can’t say, teach, or write are proliferating. Is this a “new McCarthyism”? What is at stake? What can we learn from Palestinians and their allies whose histories, narratives, and experiences are constantly denied, erased, and criminalized, even in academia? How can we ensure that universities can be bastions of academic freedom, and not enforcers of corporate, lobbyist, and governmental litmus tests?