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Will Columbia Tenure Joseph Massad? By: Winfield Myers
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, April 16, 2009


Word on the street is that Joseph Massad, an associate professor of modern Arab politics at Columbia University, has been awarded tenure. Although as yet unconfirmed by University sources, the news is easy to believe. Columbia is already home to many of the most radical professors of Middle East studies in America, including Rashid Khalidi, Hamid Dabashi, Nadia abu El-Haj, and George Saliba. Yet even with colleagues such as these, adding Massad to the tenured faculty of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) significantly hastens Columbia’s intellectual decline.

Massad is not merely vitriolic in his criticism of America, Israel, Jews, and his detractors. He is intellectually vulgar, a purveyor of racialist conspiracy theories and counterfactual historical revisionism who has bullied his own students. He makes a mockery of scholarly obligations to dispassionate research and reporting with his naked political advocacy and villainizing of opponents. Moreover, he juxtaposes events or individuals with little or nothing in common in an attempt to invert our moral universe, cloud our understanding of history, and thwart our ability to learn from the past.

Eschewing mainstream academic and popular publications, his prose appears regularly in such extremist venues as the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, the Electronic Intifada, and Counterpoint. They are a fitting home for verbose, incoherent rants peddled by shadowy figures whose extremism excludes them from civil discourse.

That a tenured Columbia professor can dwell happily at such margins is the realization of postcolonialists’ dreams: the periphery has indeed moved to the center; liminal cases (to invoke their jargon) are well inside the house. Columbia is taking the lead in mainstreaming the kind of extremist propaganda that society once looked to its great universities to discredit. Today, Columbia itself is discredited.

As the quotations from Massad below illustrate, his rambling articles have as a goal the delegitimization of the modern state of Israel. He hopes to achieve this by portraying Israel’s settlers and current inhabitants as European colonists who have since 1948 waged a Nazi-like racist campaign of expulsion, torture, warfare, and theft against Arabs.

I have culled quotations and photos from representative samples of Massad’s writings and pointed out as needed his excesses, falsifications, bigotries, and historical sleights of hand.

Alleged Historical Parallels Between
Israel and Nazi Germany

The above photo appears atop an article titled “The Gaza Ghetto Uprising.” Massad’s caption reads: “Nazi troops round up Polish Jews during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in May 1943.” Massad claims that Israeli actions in Gaza during January 2009 were morally equivalent to the atrocities committed by Nazis as they crushed the Warsaw Uprising. He calls the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah the “Palestinian Collaborationist Authority” in reference to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis.

Some examples from this article:

· “The Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto executed Jewish collaborators with the Nazis and bravely faced up to the Nazi army with what little weapons it had before being massacred.”

· “On 12 May 1943, after he received word that the resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto was finally crushed and many of its fighters killed, [Szmul] Zygielbojm [who tried in vain to tell the Allies about the slaughter of Polish Jews] turned on the gas in his London flat and committed suicide in protest against the indifference and inaction of the Allies to the plight of the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.”

· “Mahmoud Abbas, having provided so many dishonorable services to Israel, lacks Zygielbojm's integrity and noble principles and would never follow in Zygielbojm's footsteps.”

Comment: Massad calls for PA president Mahmoud Abbas to commit suicide or, barring that, excuses efforts by his Hamas opponents to kill him and his supporters.

· “As Palestinians are murdered and injured in the thousands, world powers are cheering on. This is hardly a new development. It happens often in the context of other populations being murdered by allies of the US and Europe, and it even happened during World War II as the Nazi genocide was proceeding. On 19 April 1943, Britain and the US met in Bermuda, presumably to discuss the situation of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe. That was also the day when the Nazis had launched their war against the remaining Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto but were met with unexpected courageous resistance.”

· “The Gaza Ghetto Uprising will mark both the latest chapter in Palestinian resistance to colonialism and the latest Israeli colonial brutality in a region whose peoples will never accept the legitimacy of a racist European colonial settlement in their midst.”

Source: “The Gaza Ghetto Uprising,” The Electronic Intifada, January 4, 2009.
Link: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10110.shtml

**********

Despite this egregious record of claiming historical parallels between Israel and Nazi Germany, the following claim appears on Massad’s MEALAC website in response to the film “Columbia Unbecoming,” produced by the David Project and released in 2004.

· Moreover, the lie that the film propagates claiming that I would equate Israel with Nazi Germany is abhorrent. I have never made such a reprehensible equation.

Source: Web page of Joseph Massad at MEALAC, Columbia University.
Link: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/mealac/faculty/massad/

Israelis as “Armed Colonial Settlers”;
Zionism as Racism and Anti-Semitism

· “What is it about the nature of Zionism, its racism, and its colonial policies that continues to escape the understanding of many European intellectuals on the left?”

· “The status of the European Jew as a coloniser who has used racist colonial violence for the last century against the Palestinian people is a status they refuse to recognise and continue to resist vehemently. Although some of these intellectuals have clearly recognised Israeli Jewish violence in, and occupation of, the West Bank and Gaza, they continue to hold on to a pristine image of a Jewish State founded by holocaust survivors rather than by armed colonial settlers.”

· “In his recent book, Welcome to the Desert of the Real, famed Slovenian socialist intellectual Slavoj Zizek tackles the Palestinian question in a most unoriginal manner. What concerns him most is not the foundational racism of Zionism and its concrete offspring, a racist Jewish state, nor the racist curricula of Israeli Jewish schools, the racist Israeli Jewish media representations of Palestinians, the racist declarations of Israeli Jewish leaders on the right and on the left, or the Jewish supremacist rights and privileges guiding Zionism and Israeli state laws and policies -- all of which seem of little concern to him -- but rather Arab "anti-Semitism" which should not be “tolerated.”

· “If Sartre failed to see how European Jews who left Europe as holocaust refugees arrived in Palestine as armed colonisers, Zizek's approach is more insidious. While he insists that the holocaust is not connected to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he proceeds in viewing the Jewish colonists as still remaining holocaust refugees and possible victims of some alleged Arab anti-Semitism. Herein lies his obsession with opposing the alleged anti-Semitism to which these Jews are subjected by those who resist their racist violence.”

· “When these European intellectuals worry about anti-Semitism harming the Israeli settler's colony, they are being blind to the ultimate achievement of Israel: the transformation of the Jew into the anti-Semite, and the Palestinian into the Jew.”

Comment: Massad charges that Israelis are, by their very existence, racists; ergo, all that they do or say is racist. Palestinians, as victims of Zionist racism, cannot be anti-Semites. Massad tacitly recognizes the extremism of his position by lamenting that even communists (Sartre) and French deconstructionists (he includes Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault) fail to see Israel in this light.

Source: “The Legacy of Jean-Paul Sartre,” in Al-Ahram Weekly Online, January 30—February 5, 2003.
Link: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2003/623/op33.htm

**********

· “A crucial goal of Zionism since its inception was to transform European (and later other) Jews into European Christians culturally, while continuing to call them Jews.”

· “Indeed, the ancestors of the Palestinian people, real or spiritual, are the Jews who were conquered by the Romans in the first century AD, the Arabs who were conquered by the Crusaders 10 centuries later and by the new Roman Zionists at the end of the 19th century.”

· “The positing of Israeli Jews as Europeans with world-class Western orchestras and musicians, scientists producing advanced technology, a social and political structure with a commitment to West European cultural and political principles and mores, including the central trait of being "peace-loving" and "democratic" was contrasted always with Palestinian war-like barbarians who lack culture or even a nationality.”

Comment: Massad insists that the Westernization of many early Zionists, and the statements of early leaders of the Zionist movement, prove that modern Israelis are white European colonists with no claim to Israel. This amounts to a tautology: European Jews who settled in Israel brought with them European culture; European culture lacks authenticity the Middle East; ergo, Israelis are not authentic Middle Easterners, their state is illegitimate, and they may be “resisted,” by which Massad means killed and driven out.

Source: “Rome and Jerusalem Revisited,” in Al-Ahram Weekly Online, February 19-24, 2004.
Link: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2004/678/op2.htm

**********

· “I have always made a distinction between Jews, Israelis, and Zionists in my writings and my lectures. It is those who want to claim that Jews, Israelis, and Zionists are one group (and that they think exactly alike) who are the anti-Semites. Israel in fact has no legal, moral, or political basis to represent world Jews (ten million strong) who never elected it to that position and who refuse to move to that country.”

· “The majority of Israel's supporters in the United States are, in fact, not Jews but Christian fundamentalist anti-Semites who seek to convert Jews. They constitute a quarter of the American electorate and are the most powerful anti-Semitic group worldwide. The reason why the pro-Israel groups do not fight them is because these anti-Semites are pro-Israel. Therefore, it is not anti-Semitism that offends pro-Israel groups; what offends them is anti-Israel criticism. In fact, Israel and the US groups supporting it have long received financial and political support from numerous anti-Semites.”

Source: “Joseph Massad Responds to the Intimidation of Columbia University,” in The Electronic Intifada, November 4, 2004.
Link: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article3282.shtml

**********

· “The problem is that the Palestinians, students of a universal humanism in which they consider themselves equal to everyone else, keep failing Israel's racial lessons and tests.”

· “Will Israel and its allies ever learn that lesson? Israeli history tells us that as students of racial supremacy, Zionists have always failed the test of universal humanism.”

Source: “Israel’s Right to Defend Itself,” The Electronic Intifada, January 20, 2009.
Link: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10221.shtml

**********

· “The claims made by many nowadays that any manifestation of hatred against Jews in any geographic location on Earth and in any historical period is "anti-Semitism" smacks of a gross misunderstanding of the European history of anti- Semitism.”

· “[I]f the history of European Christian anti-Semitism is mostly a history targeting Jews as objects of discrimination and exclusion, the history of European Orientalism and colonialism is the one that targeted Arabs and Muslims, among many others.”

· “Anyone who believes in social justice and opposes racist oppression must be in solidarity with all holocaust victims, especially European Jews, 90 per cent of whom were exterminated by a criminal and genocidal regime. Such a person must equally be against the Zionist abduction of the holocaust to justify Israel's colonial and racist policies.”

· “The attempt by holocaust deniers to play down the number of holocaust victims is obscene, as whether one million or 10 million Jews were killed, the result is still genocide and this would never justify Israel's oppression of the Palestinians. Such obscene number games on the part of holocaust deniers are hardly different from Zionist Jewish denial of the Palestinian nakba and are also similar to the continued Zionist attempts to play down the number of Palestinian refugees. While the nakba and the holocaust are not equivalent in any sense, the logic of denying them is indeed the same.”

· “Today we live in a world where anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hatred, derived from anti-Semitism, is everywhere in evidence. It is not Jews who are being murdered by the thousands by Arab anti- Semitism, but rather Arabs and Muslims who are being murdered by the tens of thousands by Euro- American Christian anti-Semitism and by Israeli Jewish anti-Semitism.”

· “Anti- Semitism is alive and well today worldwide and its major victims are Arabs and Muslims and no longer Jews.”

Comment: Massad uses a skewed history of nineteenth century racialism and anti-Semitism to argue, incongruously, that modern Israeli Jews and their Western Christian supporters are today’s true anti-Semites and that their victims are Arabs, and particularly Palestinians. This is a mere rhetorical device by which he hopes to occlude his own anti-Semitic rants.

Source: “Semites and Anti-Semites: That Is the Question,” in Al-Ahram Weekly Online, December 9-15, 2004.
Link: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2004/720/op63.htm

**********

· “Upon encountering the Palestinian Arabs, Zionism’s transformative project expanded. While it sought to metamorphose Jews into Europeans, it set in motion a historical process by which it was to metamorphose Palestinian Arabs into Jews in a displaced geography of anti-Semitism. …The ultimate project of cultural transformation that Zionism embarked upon, then, was the metamorphosis of the Jew into the anti-Semite, which Zionism understood correctly to be the ultimate proof of its Europeanness.”

· “But Zionism’s project proved to be twofold: in transforming the Jew into the anti-Semite (or into the ‘anti-Jew,’ as Israeli clinical psychologist Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi posited), it became necessary to transform the Palestinian Arab into the disappearing European Jew.”

· “Israel was able to replicate the different conditions under which European Jews suffered under extreme anti-Semitic conditions by imposing similar conditions on the different sectors of the Palestinian people, with one important twist: Jews are now the anti-Semitic enforcers of oppression against a recently Judaized population.”

· “But turning Palestinians into Jews does not mean that they can have access to their own Palestinian Hebrew ancestors. On the contrary, it is precisely through Zionism’s appropriation of the history of the Palestinian Hebrews as the ancestors of the European-Jews-turned-anti-Semites that the Palestinian Arabs lose any connection to their Hebrew ancestry.”

· “As Michael Selzer has shown in his classic book The Aryanization of the Jewish State, German anti-Semitism started a domino effect that began in Germany and ended in Palestine.”

· “The persistence of anti-Semitism in Euro-American thought today, together with its continued hatred of the figure of the Jew, is precisely what informs European and American support for the anti-Semitic Jews inhabiting Israel.”

Comment: This is postmodern, nihilistic jargon at its worst, a world turned upside down by a rhetorical sleight of hand and the misrepresentation of primary sources. Words in Massad’s hands mean whatever he chooses—etymology, common usage, and common sense be damned.

Source: Title essay of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question, Routledge, 2006, pp. 166—78.

Israel as the Aggressor with No Right to Self-Defense

· “Israel's allegedly defensive actions define every single war the colonial settlement has ever engaged in, even and especially when it starts these wars, which it has done in all cases except in 1973.”

· “It was Zionist expulsions of the Palestinians for over five months prior to the Arab armies' intervention in May 1948 that was used as a casus belli for the Arab armies whose intervention was carried out under the banner of defending Palestine and the Palestinians against Zionist aggression. None of this however seems to matter and Zionist aggression against the Palestinian people and their UN-designated state continues to be presented as part of ‘Israel's right to defend itself.’”

· “Ironically, Israel's unprovoked invasion of Egypt in 1956 and occupation of Sinai also seems to fall under the category of Israel's right to defend itself as far as the Israelis were concerned….”

· “Israel's massive invasions of three Arab countries in 1967 was/is also presented as another defensive war, wherein if it is ever admitted that Israel is the party that started the war, the admission is quickly followed by the "explanation" (hasbara in Hebrew, which is also the word for "propaganda") that it was a "preemptive" war in which Israel was "defending" itself. This also applies to Israel's 1978 and 1982 and 2006 invasions of Lebanon, its continued occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, its siege of Gaza, and its massacres against the Palestinians there in the last three weeks.”

Source: “Israel’s Right to Defend Itself,” The Electronic Intifada, January 20, 2009.
Link: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10221.shtml

**********

· “Professor of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures Joseph Massad decried Israel as ‘a Jewish supremacist and racist state,’ and stated that ‘every racist state should be threatened.’”

Source: Xan Nowakowski, “Students Organize Sit-in to Support Palestinians,” The Columbia Spectator, April 18, 2002.
Link: http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/3

Apologias for Violence; Calls for an Intifada

· “When and if Palestinians try to arm themselves to defend their lives against Israeli invasions and slaughter, Israel makes every effort to prevent them from doing so and considers this ‘illegal smuggling.’”

· “As the PA continues to usurp political power in the West Bank, it remains clear that nothing short of a third Palestinian uprising there will end the illegitimate rule of the PA whose collaborators continue to refuse to pack up and leave.”

· “If a generation of Palestinian and Arab intellectuals came to believe since the 1970s that armed struggle would not be able to end the Israeli occupation and that negotiations would be the only way to do so, a whole new generation of Palestinian and Arab intellectuals (some of whom are liberal) now understand that negotiations with Israel have only served to intensify the occupation and will only serve to do so in the future.”

· “In the meantime, the West and Israel will continue to defend Israel's right to defend itself and to deny the Palestinians the right to defend themselves. While some call this international relations, in reality it is nothing short of inter-racial relations wherein Jews, who since World War II have been inducted into the realm of whiteness, have rights that the Palestinians, like their counterparts elsewhere in the non-European world who are forever cast outside the realm of whiteness, do not.”

· “What the Palestinians ultimately insist on is that Israel must be taught that it does not have the right to defend its racial supremacy and that the Palestinians have the right to defend their universal humanity against Israel's racist oppression.”

Source: “Israel’s Right to Defend Itself,” The Electronic Intifada, January 20, 2009.

Link: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10221.shtml

Defending the Academic Status Quo

· “What makes these anti-scholarship attacks possible and popular is the existence of a major discrepancy, even a radical disconnect, between popular knowledge and media coverage about the Palestine/Israel conundrum and established scholarly knowledge about the topic…. Thus when young American students who come from ideologically charged homes, schools, and environments, attend university classes about the subject, they mistake established scholarship as pro- Palestinian propaganda ….”

· “Established scholarship enumerates all the racist laws and institutional racist practices in operation in Israel which discriminate between Jews and non-Jews, granting Jews differential rights and privileges over non-Jews, and rendering Israel a racist state by law.”

· “It is also established in scholarship that Israel discriminates against non-European Jews (the majority of the country's Jewish population) and also against recent Russian Jewish immigrants, and has engaged and continues to engage in a racist discourse about them and in unofficial institutional discrimination against them (witness the most recent case of discrimination against Ethiopian Jews in admissions to Israeli universities).”

· “Even though the main target of the witch-hunters is academic scholarship on Palestine and Israel, which they want to delegitimise fully as a scholarly endeavour, in favour of accepting the official Israeli government's representation of itself as academic truth, their efforts have mushroomed into an all out attack on the concept of academic freedom, and the very institution of the University. Their strategy, however, has backfired, as faculty quickly realised that the attack would indeed touch on the very nature of university pedagogy and the production of scholarly knowledge.”

And yet…

· “The production of academic knowledge in American universities was never separable from the overall social, political, and economic requirements of the American state. Links between the university and state policy and the interests of the private sector have a long history and are structurally built into the research agenda of universities, most importantly through the mechanism of funding. I still remember how as an undergraduate in the US, I was always baffled by political scientists who would ridicule Soviet academic scholarship as lacking "independence" due to its being beholden to an agenda set and funded by the Soviet state, while being proud of their own scholarship and discipline, which was hardly "independent" of US government funding as well as funding from the private sector which most often drove US state interests.”

Comment: Early in his article, cited below, Massad juxtaposes radical critiques of Israel with popular perceptions that, he claims, are spread by the media. He defends the scholarly consensus as epistemologically superior to popular knowledge. Yet a few paragraphs later, he undermines this argument by claiming that American academic knowledge is shaped by state concerns little different from what existed in the Soviet Union:

Source: “Witch Hunt at Columbia: Targeting the University,” Counterpunch, June 3, 2005.
Link: http://www.counterpunch.org/massad06032005.html

**********

Massad on His Critics

· “Targeting the university is the latest mission of right-wing forces who have hijacked not only political power and political discourse in the United States but also the very vocabulary that can be used against them. The campaign of the last three years or so to attack US universities as the last bastion where a measure of freedom of thought is still protected is engineered to cancel out such freedom and ensure that scholars will not subvert the received political wisdom of the day.”

· “Scholarship on Stalin, on US slavery, on British colonialism, on American racism, on institutionalised sexism and discrimination against women, etc, is always biased, and no amount of lobbying from right-wing groups will force academics to teach the Nazi or slavery perspectives in the interest of "balance." It is this scholarly space that the university enshrines which the neo- conservative culture commissars want to close off.”

Comment: Aside from the trite claim that there is no free speech in America (and yet he has been given tenure), Massad posits a false dilemma that equates rightly ordered scholarship with bias before asserting that conservatives would, if they had the power, institute positive pedagogy on Stalin, slavery, racism, sexism, and the like. Hence, only steadfast proponents of liberty like Massad and his allies stand between rabid conservatives and dictatorship, slavery, etc. Is this supposed to pass as an effective rhetorical sleight of hand?

Source: “Witch Hunt at Columbia: Targeting the University,” Counterpunch, June 3, 2005.
Link: http://www.counterpunch.org/massad06032005.html

**********

· “The recent controversy elicited by the propaganda film "Columbia Unbecoming," a film funded and produced by a Boston-based pro-Israel organization, is the latest salvo in a campaign of intimidation of Jewish and non-Jewish professors who criticize Israel. This witch-hunt aims to stifle pluralism, academic freedom, and the freedom of expression on university campuses in order to ensure that only one opinion is permitted, that of uncritical support for the State of Israel.”

· “This witch-hunt aims to stifle pluralism, academic freedom, and the freedom of expression on university campuses in order to ensure that only one opinion is permitted, that of uncritical support for the State of Israel.”

Source: “Joseph Massad Responds to the Intimidation of Columbia University,” in The Electronic Intifada, November 4, 2004.

**********

· “It is surprising to me that a professor at a respectable institution would write an ad hominem and irresponsible review of another scholar's book like the one Vernon Rosario wrote of my book Desiring Arabs in the May-June issue of The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide. Dr. Rosario is of course free to disagree with the book academically and to lay out all his disagreements and criticisms for the reader, but to do so through defamation is utterly unprofessional and betrays an anti-academic political agenda that he clearly shares with Campus Watch [emphasis added] whose files he consults directly or indirectly to write his review.”

· “In his introduction to the review, Mr. Rosario knowingly neglects all the academic reviews of my first book, Colonial Effects (which was based on my dissertation which won the Middle East Studies Association's Malcolm Kerr Award for the best dissertation in 1998), and cites instead a Jordanian secret police agent who does not know English and who wrote a short piece on my book (which he could not and did not read) in a Jordanian government-owned and-run Arabic newspaper (to which I published a response, but Mr. Rosario seems not to know that) because Campus Watch and its associate Martin Kramer put that article (after they translated it) in the public domain without including my response. In doing so, Mr. Rosario is not practicing scholarly critique but yellow journalism... . It is a pity that a scholar has to rely on information provided by the most anti-scholarship and anti-university organization (Campus Watch) in order to defame another scholar with whom he disagrees. Rather than contextualize my academic production within the campaign launched by Campus Watch and allied organizations to deny me and other scholars our academic freedom (a very well documented affair in the academic and popular press since 2002), Mr. Rosario opts instead to ally himself with the McCarthyist attacks on the university and on academics and uses defamatory claims made by Campus Watch against me that he then presents to the reader as "background research.”

· “As for Desiring Arabs, which won the prestigious Lionel Trilling award, it has been praised by the most major scholars in the field (including Joan Scott, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Talal Asad, Marnia Lazreg, Khaled El-Rouayheb, Anne Norton, Rosalind Morris, Anton Shammas, et al.) and rave academic reviews are coming in every month….To do so, however, would have demonstrated to the reader that my books are not controversial at all in academe, and that the extent that I am said to be "controversial" at all, I am so for the New York tabloid press and for Campus Watch, and now for some right-wing gay newspapers upset with my book.”

· “It is regrettable that a respectable publication like The Gay & Lesbian Review/Worldwide, would publish Mr. Rosario's review of my book, even though its defamatory claims are culled from the archives of Campus Watch.”

Comment: Massad’s obsession with Campus Watch, not to mention his narcissism, is on vivid display in this turgid apologia for his resume. Campus Watch maintains a huge online archive of material on Middle East studies; apparently using that archive is off-limits for anyone who wishes to remain in Massad’s good graces. Perhaps the editor of The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, in which this letter appeared, summed it up best:

· “Clearly, I'm missing something here. Since Dr. Massad never actually specifies what the review contained that he didn't like, I'm at a near total loss. He repeatedly accuses Rosario of "defamation," but I have no idea to what this refers; or what "Campus Watch" is and why we should mistrust it. Indeed the letter seems oddly generic to me, as if an all-purpose response to critics rather than a reply to the review at hand.”

Source: Desiring Arabs Author Objects to Review,” in The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, September—October, 2008.

Link: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb3491/is_5_15/ai_n29470369/?tag=content;col1

**********

· “The Ad Hoc Grievance Committee Report[1] suffers from major logical flaws, undefended conclusions, inconsistencies, and clear bias in favor of the witch-hunt that has targeted me for over three years.”

· “I should reiterate that I do not recognize the legitimacy of the Ad Hoc Grievance Committee established by the Columbia administration, as I consider it an instrument in the ongoing campaign to suppress academic freedom on this campus.”

· “Despite the limitations placed on the committee by its official charge, the committee's report was forced to acknowledge that I have been the target of a political campaign by actors inside and outside the university, as well as by registered and unregistered students inside and outside my classroom. It affirms that during the Spring of 2002, I was spied upon by at least one other professor on campus, that my class was disrupted by registered students (non-auditors) and unregistered auditors, and that individuals and organizations outside the university targeted me, my class, and my teaching.”

· “The report, despite noting the campaign against me during the Spring of 2002 from inside the classroom and outside it, from inside the university and outside it, and despite its finding that I had conducted myself in a responsible professorial way with students who would incessantly disrupt and interrupt my class, surprisingly moves to conjure up a fantastic scenario wherein it "finds it credible that Professor Massad became angered at a question that he understood to countenance Israeli conduct of which he disapproved, and that he responded heatedly.”

· “Thus, what the report finds credible is that I became ‘angered’ and ‘responded heatedly’ with ‘harsh public criticism.’ Notice that the charge is a moving target.”

· “Moreover, I should reemphasize that given the organized political campaign against me, which the report acknowledges, it is mystifying why the report fails to make any connection between this campaign and the nature and timing of the claims made by Shanker and Schoenfeld.”

· “The only possible logic that might have contributed to the findings reported by the committee is the logic of pressure exercised by the administration and outside groups on the committee to declare specific findings. Such pressures are hardly separable from the national campaign targeting academic freedom on various campuses across the country. It was these pressures to which the administration had initially acquiesced when it established the Ad Hoc Committee as part of the inquisition of the faculty.”

· “Even though the report acknowledges that there has been an ongoing organized effort at intimidation, by forces both external and internal to the university, of Middle East faculty at Columbia, especially me, and that this has been going on for years, the committee fails to see how its very establishment and the manner in which it established its findings makes it part of this campaign of intimidation. The objective of this campaign is to silence all dissenting scholarly voices, indeed to silence scholarship per se on the Palestine/Israel conflict.”

Comment: Massad blames his troubles at Columbia, as delineated in the Ad Hoc Grievance Committee Report issued in March 2005, on a conspiracy to silence not just him, but “to silence all dissenting scholarly voices,” which may strike some as veering just a bit toward paranoia. Moreover, this response from the then-untenured Massad was aimed at his superiors at Columbia. One might think that a man who was ostensibly the victim of a national campaign to intimidate him into silence could not have gotten away with such a blistering response to a university report had his charge contained a grain of truth. The modern university sends forth a cacophony of competing claims to be the latest victims of nefarious censors.

Source: “Joseph’s Massad’s Response to the Ad Hoc Grievance Committee Report issued in March 2005,” The Electronic Intifada, April 5, 2005.

Link: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article3744.shtml




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