Middle East studies in the News
Joseph Massad Update
by David Bernstein
Long-time readers will recall the controversy over tenure for Columbia professor Joseph Massad. Massad's defenders argued that his tenure was only in doubt because pro-Israel forces were out to get him due to his anti-Israel views. I wrote in response, after Massad received tenure
It's often alleged, as in the Finkelstein case at DePaul, that someone's anti-Israel views prevent him from getting tenure, or otherwise succeeding in academia. Putting aside the merit of those claims, Massad's case involves exactly the opposite scenario. He landed at Columbia to begin with as a disciple of leading Palestinian activist and Columbia professor Edward Said. And given not just the quality of his "scholarship," but his hostility to the international gay rights and feminist movements (which shouldn't matter for tenure purposes, but who are we kidding?), and his haranguing of a questioner at a university event based on his (Israeli) nationality, it's hard to imagine a university like Columbia tenuring him if he wasn't a leading Israel-basher, and therefore was able to pose as both a "progressive" and a martyr to academic freedom.
The latest news with regard to Massad is that he wrote an essay about the history of Zionism and anti-Semitism that was so offensive, so preposterous, such complete and utter bullshit that Al-Jazeera decided it had made a mistake in publishing it and pulled it from its website (it later reinstated the article after being criticized for pulling the piece without explanation). It would take an entire book to correct the foolishness of this particular piece, but if you have some knowledge of Jewish and Israeli history, it's worth looking at to see how low standards can go at an elite Ivy League university.
As I wrote previously,
The good news is that if Columbia had denied Massad tenure, it would have been under severe pressure to hire someone just as anti-Israel to replace him, to prove that its decision wasn't politically motivated. And that replacement almost certainly wouldn't hold some of Massad's most cringeworthy positions and statements, such as: the "Gay International" conspiracy to create homosexuality in the Arab world; that "such practices [as the torture of Abner Louima by NYC police] clearly demonstrate that white American male sexuality exhibits certain sadistic attributes in the presence of non-white men and women over whom white Americans (and Brits) have government-sanctioned racialised power"; that the movie "Exodus tells the story of the Zionist hijacking of a ship from Cyprus to Palestine by a Zionist Haganah commander;" his dismissal of the significance of "honor killings" in the Arab world; and his insistence Israel is analogous to Nazi Germany, and the Palestinians to the Nazis' Jewish victims [links in the original blog post].Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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