In a surprise twist, Brooklyn College has rehired the professor who was previously unhired after Assemblyman Dov Hikind complained about his alleged anti-Israeli leanings. The college has maintained that Kristofer Petersen-Overton, 26, was fired from teaching a Middle East politics seminar because he didn't have a Ph.D.—not because of his political beliefs. The Political Science Department had unanimously voted to approve Petersen-Overton to teach the seminar, but last week—within 24 hours after Hikind complained—the administration overruled the vote. Accusations of academic repression flew, and a petition in support of Petersen-Overton drew 1,700 signatures. Hikind's not happy, and tells us:

The entire thing is just crazy, and embarrassing in terms of Brooklyn College's behavior from the very beginning. A couple of days ago they say he's not qualified to teach a graduate course. He must have gotten one of these speed courses over the weekend, and now suddenly he's very well qualified. It's sort of bizarre to say the very least. I don't know exactly what went on. I'm a little ashamed to claim I have my masters from Brooklyn College these days.

When I wrote my letter to the Brooklyn College president and the Chancellor, I raised issues that were of great concern based on his syllabus, and based on things he's written. By the way, when he subsequently responded to one of the Anglo-Jewish newspapers on the subject of suicide bombers, what he actually said is that he doesn't condone suicide bombers but he understands them. That's something I find totally shocking and unacceptable. You can never accept the murder of women and children for any reason. And that's a position he actually took after the story first came out.

I'm not surprised by that, having read his writing. I spent ten days going through the articles he's written on a variety of Middle East topics. Even the stuff on his website is very revealing. Everything he's ever written is all about one side being responsible, and that side of course is Israel. They are evil ones, they are bad ones. They might not be perfect, they might be far from perfect, but when he talks about atrocities, he talks about Israel. No one else has committed atrocities in the Middle East, of course, ever.

Asked about the administration's reversal, Petersen-Overton tells the Daily News, "I'm elated. This is an incredible victory for academic freedom in the United States and around the world." A Brooklyn College spokesman tells the Times, "There was no political motivation behind this at all; it was always a question of credentials and process." And college president Karen Gould adds, "He has sufficient depth of knowledge and the intellectual capacity to successfully lead a graduate seminar." But Hikind isn't having it, and says:

I did not ask that he be fired in my letter. Not that I was opposed to him not being in a classroom. That's not the position I took. When I got word within less than 24 hours that he was not going to teach the course, I've got to be honest with you, I was a little shocked. Like, "What happened?" Of course the excuse they used—now these are intelligent people at the very highest levels—was that he was not qualified. He didn't have enough years toward his Ph.D. Everything was bizarre, and the most bizarre thing is the change that happened over the weekend. Who was intimidated, who was coerced? I don't know. I'm just surprised by the entire behavior. These are not children. These are intellectuals. These are smart people. It's a bizarre chapter.

We're going to monitor this particular professor. I've made it clear I have my point of view on the Middle East, other people are entitled to their point of view. When their point of view involves violence and terrorism, I have a problem. You can be critical of Israel—that's not the issue. But I've read most of those books in his syllabus, which is eight pages long. There isn't one book that is center or center-right. It's all one side. Including Israeli historians who are known as revisionist historians. I thought the purpose of a professor in a classroom is to motivate kids to think for themselves, to have a debate. Not to push them in one single direction. And based on that syllabus I don't know how they'd be permitted to make up their minds; it's all one sided!