Zionists target Prof. Joseph Massad
- Columbia vows swift action on anti-Israel professors
By Shlomo Shamir
Haaretz / 26 November 2004
NEW YORK - Columbia University president Lee Bollinger plans
"specific steps" soon in response to allegations that professors and
lecturers at the Ivy League university made vitriolic and malicious
comments against Israel in classes.
Bollinger made the pledge in a Wednesday phone call to
Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman. Bollinger
didn't detail the character of the steps, but emphasized "the matter
will be handled immediately."
New York's Columbia University was recently embarrassed by reports
that Middle Eastern professors are exploiting their academic
standing to express extreme political views on Israel, using
slanderous and defamatory statements.
The allegations against the professors, including their names and
photographs, were published at the beginning of the week in an
investigative report by mass-circulation newspaper the New York
Jewish sources in New York reported Thursday that major Jewish
donors to the university were considering severing ties with the
prestigious institution in response to the "corrupt behavior" by
academic staff. In particular, the sources mentioned Jewish
graduates of the university active in alumni organizations.
They said that Bollinger had recently received irate requests from
alumni protesting the behavior and explaining they expected an
appropriate response from the university to what they called
"malicious comments" against Israel.
The university president recently proposed the establishment of a
special chair for Israeli Studies, with the view of separating it
from Middle East Studies. The proposal was interpreted by the Jewish
community as an appeasement gesture after the wave of protest
against the professors' behavior.
Foxman told Haaretz on Thursday that he his meeting with Bollinger
had left him with the impression that "he is aware of the problem
and understands its seriousness."
Foxman called the Columbia events "particularly grave as the
institution is located in New York, which has a large Jewish
population, and Jewish students are exposed to insults from
Foxman emphasized that "if Columbia handles the problem decisively,
it will be a strong message to other U.S. campuses where similar
ADC Action Alert:
Defend Academic Freedom at Columbia University
11/24/04--ADC expresses its deep concern over increased attempts to
silence free speech and academic freedom at Columbia University.
Professor Joseph Massad, an untenured junior faculty member in the
department of Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures
(MEALAC) has been the target of a campaign designed to intimidate
academics critical of Israel and U.S. foreign policy in the Arab
world. Citing "the duress of coercion and intimidation,"
Professor Massad has decided not to teach his course on Palestinian
and Israeli Politics and Societies next semester.
A "special report" in the New York Daily News on November 21 accused
the MEALAC department of "promoting an I-hate-Israel agenda,
embracing the ugliest of Arab propaganda, and teaching that Zionism
is the root of all evil in the Mideast." Arguing that "Columbia has
been infected with a contingent of faculty members whose hatred for
Israel has eclipsed any academic mission that makes sense," a
November 19 New York Sun editorial went so far as to demand that
Columbia University President expand his investigation to
include "the content of the scholars' research." At least one
Congressman, Representative Anthony Weiner, has publicly called for
Professor Massad to be fired.
This flurry of attacks was triggered by private showings of "Columbia
Unbecoming," a film produced by The David Project, a Boston-based
anti-Palestinian initiative formed in 2002 "in response to the
growing ideological assault on Israel." In the film, a small number
of students affiliated with Lionpac, the University's pro-Israel
student club, accused Professor Massad of intimidating students who
expressed views sympathetic of Israel. Not one of the students
interviewed in the film has ever filed any kind of complaint against
Professor Massad or the MEALAC through any of the appropriate
channels. Few had ever taken a class with him. Students supportive
of Professor Massad and appreciative of his classroom instruction
were not interviewed by the filmmakers.
Citing concern over the "disturbing and offensive nature of
incidents described in the film," Columbia University President Lee
Bollinger has already announced plans to investigate accusations of
anti-Semitism and intimidation at the University. In October, he
appointed Provost Alan Brinkley to lead the investigation into
allegations of intimidation and assess the adequacy of the grievance
ADC has long expressed serious concerns about efforts to stifle free
speech on US campuses by labeling any criticism of Israel as "anti-
Semitism" and these latest efforts by The David Project must be seen
within the context of the organized national campaign to intimidate
and silence supporters of Palestinian human rights. For more
information, see ADC's earlier press release:
Leading the charge against any academic criticism of Israel is
Daniel Pipes' "Campus Watch" project (see: www.campuswatch.org).
Launched in September 2002, Pipes' website monitors the political
views of US professors and graduate students, maintains "dossiers"
on professors and academic institutions deemed insufficiently pro-
Israel, and urges students to inform on their professors' views.
Since its inception, a number of professors, students and other
prominent persons have been targeted. The "survey institutions"
section includes condemnations of Colorado College for inviting
Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi to speak at a symposium. In
addition to Professor Massad, Columbia Professors Rashid Khalidi and
Hamid Dabashi, as well as others such as Tariq Ramadan, have also
ADC members are urged to contact the Columbia University
administration to express support for academic freedom on campus and
urge the University President not to bow to political pressure to
silence professors critical of Israeli or American policy.
University President Lee Bollinger
University Provost Alan Brinkley
Telephone: (212) 854-2404
Fax: (212) 932-0418
For more information see:
Joseph Massad's Statement in Response to the Intimidation of
"Columbia Unbecoming" in the clear light of day
Columbia University President Lee Bollinger's statement on "Columbia
Columbia University Provost Alan Brinkely's statement on "Columbia
Online Petition in Support of Professor Massad
ADC Denounces New Efforts to Chill Academic Freedom 
Campus Watch Survey: Columbia University
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Tel: (202) 244-2990, Fax: (202) 244-3196, Email: adc@...
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