Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Columbia Zionists "Unbecoming"

Expand Messages
  • World View
    Campus is Fanatically Pro-Israel, Anti-Muslim A European Columbia Student s Experience http://www.lefthook.org/Ground/Columbia032005.html - Introduction by M.
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 2005
      Campus is Fanatically Pro-Israel, Anti-Muslim

      A European Columbia Student's Experience

      - Introduction by M. Junaid Alam

      Readers who have been following the attacks on Arab professors at
      Columbia University may have read my recent investigative article on
      the subject. The piece elicited many positive responses, including
      from Columbia staff and students. One such respondent was a recent
      European graduate who shared some startling revelations about the
      university's real atmosphere. Relating his experience below, and
      using the pseudonym "Mark Robert" to avoid the kind of vicious
      attacks Zionist groups are notorious for, he describes how Zionist
      students have attacked Muslims inside and outside the classroom, and
      exposes the heavily pro-Israel nature of Columbia Law School.


      A European Student's Experience at Columbia

      Columbia "Unbecoming"
      March 26, 2005

      Before studying at Columbia University I hadn't thought much about
      the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Coming from Europe I had no
      specific links to the area. Then, after finishing my undergraduate
      degree in Europe and enrolling at Columbia as a graduate student,
      what struck me most was just the opposite of what some are
      complaining of nowadays: that is, how fanatically pro-Israel
      Columbia was.

      After being at Columbia for a while it occurred to me that
      international organisations and the UN, on the one hand and Columbia
      and New York, on the other hand, functioned in parallel universes.
      At international fora and assemblies, which I followed for my
      studies, Israeli repression was condemned, and countless resolutions
      requesting Israel to abide by international law were blocked by the
      US. At Columbia arguments were concocted to defend Israel. I have
      been to many universities in many different countries and I have to
      say that, by far, I have never attended a more closed-minded campus
      than Columbia. And I am not saying this merely on account of the
      density of Israeli army T-shirts that can be regularly observed

      By fall 2000 at the beginning of the second intifada, fanatical
      supporters of Israel sought violently to repress anybody defending
      the Palestinians. Students belonging to the Middle Eastern group at
      the Law School were practically spat upon, their tables overturned,
      etc. - occurrences that in Europe would be inconceivable. On the
      other hand, maybe due to international condemnation of Israeli
      policies, a debate was finally opening up on campus. Because they no
      longer dominate one hundred percent of public discussion, fanatical
      supporters of Israel on campus claim that their voices are "stifled"
      and that they are "unwelcome" and "silenced."

      Consider these recent incidents, which I personally witnessed. When
      Palestinian students on the main campus distributed flyers by spring
      2002 to commemorate the 1948 "nekhba" (disaster), a crowd of Hillel
      fanatics approached them shouting "terrorists." Had they said that
      to me or to any other person and had I been in the Palestinian
      students' shoes, it would have ended up in a fistfight. But it was
      the Palestinian students and not the Hillel provocateurs who showed
      extreme restraint. When Dr Mustafa Barghouti (who just finished
      second in the recent Palestinian elections) came to Columbia to give
      a talk in November 2003, two Hillel fanatics began to harass him
      during the Q&A session, heaping ridicule on his presentation
      as "this wonderful display of propaganda" and charging that "you
      Palestinians feel like victims, but how about all the weapons you
      get from Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah?" They then demonized Arabs in
      the rudest form that I have ever seen. "Thank you for the compliment
      about my propaganda," Barghouti replied, "but actually we are still
      learning about this - from you know who." When Barghouti mentioned
      the 4,000 Palestinians killed one of the Hillel fanatics laughed. A
      lady stood up and very angrily told them at least not to show their
      scorn for the victims publicly. When they continued to laugh, a
      professor told them to shut up. I wonder if that is what is meant
      by "silencing students who offer opposing views" - that is, rightly
      telling them to show a little bit of respect towards the keynote
      speaker and victims of the conflict, just as Israelis expect respect
      to be shown for their 1,000 dead since 2000. No such vulgarity was
      on display every time Benjamin Netanyahu came to the Business School
      to give a talk during the previous years.

      It also bears comparing the "silencing" to which the late Professor
      Said was subjected at Columbia. His life was constantly threatened,
      so much so that he was put under police surveillance. But this
      silencing wasn't meant to stifle discussion, didn't lead to any
      public investigation and wasn't a cause of concern by New York

      Then there's the stifling of dissenting voices by fanatical Zionist
      professors at the Law School. Some of them seem to spend all of
      their waking hours concocting legal alibis in defense of Mother
      Israel, much like Communist Party hacks did for Mother Russia in the
      1930s. For example, at the height of the Israeli incursions of 2002,
      Professor George Fletcher put forth the long discredited notion that
      UN Resolution 242 "did not compel Israel to leave all territories."
      This masterful piece was published in the New York Times as some
      kind of intellectual breakthrough. Never mind that 242
      emphasizes "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by
      war." Other law school professors are avid proponents of Israel
      exceptionalism - that is, human rights protections like the
      prohibition on torture must be afforded to everyone except victims
      of Israeli policy.

      And, while it is perfectly legitimate to write a paper on the
      injustices committed against the Palestinian population for a
      specific class on Human Rights (at the student's risk with respect
      to the grade), those wishing to conduct more thorough research on
      the topic after the J.D. degree, for which the assistance of a
      professor is necessary, have been told that "while the subject may
      be worth-while, there is no current interest among the faculty."

      The truth is that Columbia is the last refuge of self-delusional
      Zealots for Zion. It is precisely when the ideological walls
      protecting this haven began to crumble that they started shouting
      about "silenced" and "stifled" voices and anti-Semitism. One doesn't
      hear this nonsense on European campuses because the zealots know the
      battle has been lost there: the truth is out about what Israel has
      done to the Palestinians. But in the U.S. the hope is that by
      whipping up enough hysteria they can still win here. If they do, it
      won't be because what they're saying is true but because the rest of
      us were, yet again, "silenced" and "stifled."

      In what there has been mounting interest indeed especially after the
      events of September the 11th has been classes dealing not only about
      the Middle East, but about Islam. And in substantial cases pro-
      Israel students have enrolled in these classes not so much out of
      curiosity or interest, but as a means to confirm their prejudices
      and as a way of finding valuable "new" arguments to prove their pro-
      Israeli stand against "pro-Palestinians". You could hear pro-Israel
      defenders vigorously arguing "but the Qu'ran says this or that" to
      prove their point that Palestinians or Arabs or Muslims are less
      civilised or that the Qu'ran justifies atrocities or that Islam is a
      malignant religion, all as a result of having attended one class on
      the issue. The point also needs to be make that these classes have
      been attended by "students" having "worked" for the CIA or other
      federal agencies.

      Classes dealing with Iran have also been a favourite selection of
      pro-Israel students. And many have used those classes to try to
      garner sympathy for Israel or to offer a partisan political expose
      or to simply show scorn for that country. I remember very vividly
      attending one of these classes where the presentation by a pro-
      Israel student shifted from Iran to the defense of anything Israel
      does and the criticism and outright scorn for the Palestinian
      Authority, Arafat, Arabs, Muslims and the like. In fact I do not
      recall the name of Iran being mentioned even once in the
      presentation. In Europe such an incident would not have happened.
      The Professor would have nicely told the student that the defense of
      Israel did not constitute the topic for the class. At Columbia,
      Professors, afraid that pro-Israeli students would claim to
      be "silenced" do not offer resistance and succumb like doves.

      In the very same class in a different session pro-Israel students
      vigorously disputed the universally accepted assertion made by the
      foreign-born Professor that "Palestinians are oppressed". The
      Professor, for fear of reprisals, did not dwell on the issue and
      barely defended himself while the "silenced" students angrily and
      vociferously protested. That European students came to the rescue of
      the Professor and initiated a debate after the class was over
      defending what the professor mentioned in passing suggests that it
      is not the pro-Israel students but the Professors and anyone voicing
      any sort of criticism of Israel who are silenced. The European
      students were accused by their pro-Israeli counterparts of "being
      anti-Semites." Of course I forgot that Palestinians are not
      oppressed because it is Palestinian tanks that populate Israeli
      roads, Palestinian helicopters that bomb Jerusalem and Haifa,
      Palestinian bulldozers that destroy houses in Tel Aviv and American
      made Palestinian F-16 that target Israeli militants.

      Columbia unbecoming? Of course the United States and Israel
      constitute the "axis of good" and Muslim countries find themselves
      more often than not in the axis of evil, but does that offer a valid
      explanation for the fact that the student body specially at the Law
      School is composed from very few students from Muslim countries and
      practically none from the Arab world ? Or that more than half of the
      accepted candidates into the S.J.D program every single year are
      Israelis, a country of 6 million people in a world with 6 billion
      inhabitants? Of course Israeli students are generally very focused
      and capable but should they monopolize each year more than half of
      the candidatures for the doctoral degree in law? Are there no law
      students in the Arab or Muslim world or Africa or other places?
      Maybe Columbia is truly unbecoming but not for the ones who claim

      Some of the few students coming from Muslim countries, not
      necessarily Arabs and not Arab Americans who obviously are used to
      the prevalent pro-Zionist ambiance, have privately confided to me
      that the undisguised pro-Zionist mood at the university and
      specifically at the Law School is something "unbearable"
      and "without parallel anywhere [they] have been". Even in some cases
      some confessed to me that they were considering transferring
      to "other less pro-Zionist schools". An American girl of Middle
      Eastern origin enrolled in a dual program (meaning that she would
      share the time for her degree between a school in Europe and
      Columbia, thereby considerably reducing the time spent at Columbia)
      told me very frankly that "I am very happy that this is my last year
      here, I could not stand another year in this place". So maybe
      Columbia is truly unbecoming. But for reasons quite opposite of
      those alleged.

      It is a fact that this constant denial of justice and justification
      of anything that Israel does turned Columbia and NY in general into
      the last self-delusional haven for zealots. It is precisely when
      this area of "safety" was beginning to be eroded by more students
      coming to terms with reality that these pro-Israeli students (and
      those who were behind them) started running out of arguments, felt
      increasingly cornered and had to turn to the ultimate
      argument, "stifling of voices", and eventually, sooner or later it
      had to be pronounced, "anti-Semitism". The ADL has decisively
      contributed to the debate. That the ADL intervened in the matter and
      solicited "punishment" against professors offering different views
      not in accord with Zionist myths to President Bollinger suggests
      that these students were not that "silenced" or "discriminated". The
      production of a video by a Boston-based pro-Israel group implies
      that these students have decided to take recourse to outside sources
      to vent their frustrations. And also that they possess considerable
      resources and outside backing in their campaign to smear Columbia

      These measures denouncing Professors that criticise Israel and its
      policies comes at a time also when even the Israeli government has
      realized that the public relations battle has been lost. The Israeli
      government has thus repeateadly denounced the "inability of pro-
      Israel students to respond to the challenges on American campuses"
      as a reason behind the current failure. That they do not refer to
      campuses in Europe stems form the belief that the situation is
      irreversible in other locations. And it is with this purpose that
      several Israeli Ministries have been involved in an active campaign
      to "promote pro-Israel activism on American campuses".

      The Israeli Ministry for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs under the
      guidance of Natan Sharansky has been an instrumental piece. Mr.
      Sharansky offered a tough critique of the "dismal state of Jewish
      campus activism in the United States" in the Forward magazine and
      decided to take the matter into his own hands. That Ministry
      celebrated "back to campus advocacy weekends" for foreign students
      enrolled in summer courses at Israeli universities where
      participants, coming from institutions all over Israel, were happily
      recruited for a financially sponsored weekend near the beach. The
      students were welcome with the following statements: "lately pro-
      Palestinian students at U.S campuses have been very successful and
      some of you have not been active enough and could not confront them
      probably because you did have the right arguments. This weekend is
      designed to give you the tools to fight". And then students had to
      sign up for conferences where those tools were provided and
      discussed, and CD, CD-Roms and DVDs were distributed with statements
      like "settlements are not illegal under international law"
      or "Jerusalem is the undivided capital of the state of Israel"
      or "why do we have a claim to the whole land" as just some
      illustrative examples. Students were also told to confront "anti-
      Israeli" professors by all means.

      That Mr Sharansky, the erstwhile defender of Human Rights in the
      Soviet Union now turned into Bush's guru, has become "an
      uncompromising activist against the human (and any other) rights of
      the Palestinians in the occupied territories" as Uri Avnery points
      out should not be a matter of concern, I guess . Mr Sharansky, from
      human rights defender to the extreme right, "systematically enlarged
      the settlements on expropriated Arab land in the West Bank " as
      Housing Minister and now belongs to the group of Likud rebels that
      opposes the disengagement plan in Gaza, meaning that he is a
      partisan of the Greater Israel idea against any consideration for a
      negotiated settlement of the problem or for international law for
      that matter. Mr Sharansky himself abandoned the coalition his party
      of former immigrants of the Soviet Union formed with Barak's Labor
      Party for offering "too many concessions" to the Palestinians on the
      issue of Jerusalem.

      That countless web pages and organizations have been created to
      support Israel's cause on U.S campuses and media and still Israel's
      image does not improve must be the real cause of concern for those
      who claim to have been "silenced" and that is why they are resorting
      to outside guidance . Mitchell Bard, executive director of the
      American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, and author of "Myths and
      Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict" maintained as early as
      June 2003 that "the prevalence of outspoken anti-Israeli professors
      remains the most insidious danger to Israel's standing on the

      Ronald S. Lauder, president of the Jewish National Fund, and Jay
      Schottenstein, a board member of Media Watch International, arguing
      that they found "Jewish students to be demoralized, intimidated and,
      worst of all, apathetic about their homeland (sic)", decided to
      create the "Caravan for Democracy program" in 2002. That not all
      Jewish students identify with Israel's policies is unimportant, I
      guess. The existence of groups like "Jews Against the
      Occupation", "Jews for Peace and Palestine and Israel" does not
      matter I presume.

      Mr Lauder and Mr Schottenstein pointed out in an article that
      appeared in the November 2003 edition of Forward magazine
      that "Jewish students are confronting unprecedented anti-Israeli and
      anti-Semitic aggression (sic) at their schools ." Affirming that "in
      this age of information, when our enemies (sic) have remarkably
      managed to loose their misleading slanders upon every university
      (sic)", they conclude that the solutions are twofold. The first
      response to the "current college crisis" should be to "bring top pro-
      Israel speakers to campuses from coast to coast". That would not
      constitute propaganda I assume. But secondly, and more
      important, "effective dialogue (sic) with the Middle East studies
      faculties which are known for their anti-Israel orientations" must
      be promoted. By "effective dialogue" it is understood to "confront
      professors and departmentsby those with the proper ability to
      respond", to "reshape the rhetorical landscape in these facultiesand
      biases and unbalanced curriculums (sic)" and to protest and
      apply "pressureto change them (referring to curriculums and hostile

      Mr Lauder and Mr Schottenstein also complain that "one university
      which would have never been perceived as anti-Israel held a
      university authorized seminar on 'Why anti-Zionism is not
      antisemitism┬┤". So apparently anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are
      exact equivalents. All those attacking any measure carried out by
      Israel and defending the legitimate rights of the Palestinians
      emboldened in countless international resolutions are not driven by
      any concern for justice, they are all anti-semites and that includes
      the Jewish groups mentioned previously and many others. It is
      further suggested that "Jewish students and their professors must be
      taught to effectively utilize their campus and local media to
      explain Israel's counter-arguments". As we can see the smearing
      campaign against Columbia professors who dare to criticize Mother
      Israel in the midst of a Zionist campus is nothing new and is part
      of a well-orchestrated campaign stemming from a feeling of
      impotence. And since the students are not going to change, the
      target of pro-Israel students and all those considerable outside
      organizations providing support to them should be the Professors who
      offer dissenting views.

      But intimidating measures will not work. Dean Bollinger should be
      criticised for succumbing to the pressure of a group well-known for
      carrying out a witch hunt against anybody daring to criticise Mother
      Israel in all circles and walks of life. Cancelling a class - as one
      professor has done or has been forced to do after the pressure of
      events - suggests that academic freedom and freedom of thought are
      at danger. Furthermore it constitutes a dangerous precedent. What if
      any other group did not like the contents of a class in which they
      were criticised ? Should that class be cancelled ? What if Turkish
      groups engaged in a campaign to protest against classes that mention
      the Armenian genocide ? Or what if Armenian groups pressured Mr
      Bollinger to protest lectures where the existence of an Armenian
      holocaust is put into question ? Would he also cancel that class and
      punish the professors that teach it ?? What if a professor claims
      that the US sanctions on Iraq that killed nearly a million people
      were genocidal, should he or she be reprimanded ? What if
      Palestinian students demanded that all classes where they are
      criticised and vilified (and there are many) be cancelled ? Of
      course they do not possess similar backing and financial means from
      obscure outside sources so they could not produce a video.

      Muslims and Islam, especially after September 11th have been
      vilified, insulted and defamed in the press and also in academic
      circles, including Columbia.. For example at the Law School right
      after the attacks of September the 11th pro-Israel Law Students
      tried to present a movie by Steve Emerson, who has been notorious
      for waging jihad on the religion of Islam. Emerson for example was
      quick to blame islamists for the Oklahoma bombings of 1995 and his
      thesis and opinions have been widely discredited. Had it not been
      for the protests of a few Muslim students at the Law School the
      video would have been projected in the failed attempt to identify
      Palestinian resistance to occupation with radical Islamic Al-Qaida
      terrorism which has been a long desired goal of the right-wing
      Israeli government and its defenders (including those at Columbia).
      September the 11th offered a great opportunity to discredit and
      deligitimize the Palestinian discontent against the occupation and
      pro-Israeli groups tried to take advantage, even if they failed

      That Columbia succumbed to outside pressure from a well-organized
      financially powerful group with a very notorious Israeli exculpatory
      policy and which seeks to persecute anyone daring to criticise that
      country's policies may lead us to think that the freedom of academic
      institutions in the US is subordinated to financial and economic
      interests. The resources groups like the ADL possess in order to
      carry out their witch hunt are enormous. The ADL should serve to
      protect the memory of the Holocaust and real anti-Semitism. Much the
      opposite the ADL is one of the organisations that actively promotes
      the amalgamation of the criticism of Israel and anti-semitism, which
      are completely different issues.

      The professors being criticized are, in fact, just the closest thing
      Columbia has to creating a reasonable debate about the Middle East
      on campus and in New York as a whole. That is why they are being
      penalized. They are also reprimanded for expressing what the
      majority of the world thinks. At a time when the gap between what
      the rest of the world and what the U.S think has never been so wide
      in the Middle East conflict and in other many situations.

      So is the ADL going to persecute Jews and non-Jews alike who
      criticise the fact that the creation of the state of Israel was done
      through not so pure methods ? Why would 3.5 million Palestinians be
      rotting in refugee camps in other countries not being allowed to
      return to the places where they had some land, a house, an
      apartment, keys on their hands when they talk to you to back their
      assertions. And many Israeli historians have taken the time to
      document these facts. But of course that represents questioning
      the "existence" of Israel and its right of exist, as if of a
      moribund patient in bed we were talking about. An image that
      contrasts with the billions in dollars that country receives in
      financial and military aid and its sophisticated army and methods of
      attack which lead independent rapporteurs at the UN (not acting
      under US pressure as the rest of their peers) to suggest imposing an
      arms embargo on that country in May 2004. And as we have seen the
      witch hunt has recently extended to Hebrew University so Jews who
      dare to criticize Israel policies or history should be aware that
      they are not "immune" either as the ADL themselves have explicitly
      stated with that very same language .

      Will the ADL succeed in eliminating intellectual discourse and
      research on those topics ? What will it do with European
      universities which going further decided to eliminate or drastically
      reduce academic cooperation with Israeli institutions in 2002
      because of that country's continuous violations of human rights ?
      Were those the functions the ADL was created for ?? Fascism or
      totalitarianism may be qualified as the elimination of dissent and
      the suppression of independent thought. In that respect what the ADL
      is doing falls clearly within the parameters of fascism. It could
      also be called intellectual terrorism. Because taking a few quotes
      out of context in order to smear a particular professor or a group
      of professors that do not agree with your policies constitutes a
      method that only inquisitory tribunals would apply. And which could
      also very easily be used the other way around. We could take a few
      quotes from pro-Israeli or Zionist professors which as mentioned in
      some institutions comprise the majority of the faculty, and I am
      convinced that the results would be more "spectacular". Would these
      inquisitory groups apply any pressure when professors on campus
      completely disregard or even show scorn for the Palestinians' right
      to existence? Or for their right of safety? Or what will they do
      when pro-Israel students demonstrate rudeness and contempt, as they
      do quite often ? Incidents that pro-Palestinian groups have never
      dared to carry out in opposing situations.

      Facts have to be shown precisely in class and not taking recourse to
      cowardly outside measures. But it is here when the pro-Israeli lobby
      and its students have failed. Because reality is that the world and
      specially educated people at universities not only in the US have
      started to come to terms with the Palestinians' suffering. Most
      Europeans, maybe because of the geographic proximity, or maybe
      because of the lesser influence of inquisitive pro-Israeli groups on
      campus or because an extremely more balanced media, understood this
      long ago. I guess that I forgot that we Europeans are all anti-
      semites and that includes also even those with Jewish roots.

      What has happened is simply that Israeli supporters, who have run
      out of arguments to justify the military occupation and all it
      entails, when confronted with an incipient debate on a Zionist
      campus have felt they were pushed into a corner out of which there
      is no exit. It remains extremely difficult to justify dispossession
      and injustice in the inter-connected world we live in nowadays. What
      is especially troubling for pro-Israeli supporters is that not only
      Arab or Middle Eastern students, few at Columbia and specially
      absent from the Law School, but also European students and
      increasingly American students have started to complain against
      Israeli violations on campus. Pro-Israeli students have been caught
      off-guard or have been left without arguments. And they have
      resorted to powerful outside groups and lobbies to come to the
      rescue. Calling the current atmosphere at Columbia as a "bias"
      against Israel and favoring the Palestinians is just a self-
      delusional ploy, aimed at shifting responsibility to the others,
      justifying the unjustifiable.

      Marc Robert is the pseudonym of a student at Columbia University.



      To subscribe to this group, send an email to:

    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.