Middle East studies in the News
Students rip Columbia 'Zionists'
by Douglas Feiden
"MYTH: Students with pro-Israel sympathies are marginalized and intimidated at Columbia University.
"FACT: The Zionist perspective dominates campus life and is represented in dozens of classes at Columbia."
That was the opening salvo fired by a group of students yesterday in a bid to mobilize support for the embattled Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures department.
In an "urgent call to action," they asked students, faculty and activists from off-campus to defend MEALAC from a "witch hunt."
The offensive came after a Daily News article Sunday showed how dozens of professors promote an I-hate-Israel agenda - and a handful bully and threaten pro-Israel students.
Meanwhile, a pro-Israel professor has publicly come forward to say that students are not the only people at Columbia to feel the lash of intimidation.
"Some faculty members are afraid to come out and express support for Israel's right to exist, and some feel they've been penalized and isolated for doing so," said Dr. Judith Jacobson, assistant professor of clinical epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health.
She cites two stories involving two colleagues:
"In one case, an individual feels the failure to renew a faculty contract was because the person was seen as being 'too Jewish,' or too public an advocate of Israel," Jacobson said.
"In the other, a colleague is hesitant to mention that she is Israeli. She has been asked, more than once, and by more than than one faculty member, how many Palestinians she has killed."
Among the professors spotlighted by the News report were Joseph Massad, a professor of Arab politics, and Hamid Dabashi, the MEALAC chairman.
With tensions rising, the City Council's 10-member Jewish Caucus has launched its own probe of alleged hatemongering and harassment.
"We're collecting firsthand accounts from students who've suffered intimidation for voicing pro-Israel views," said City Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Queens). "Speaking as a former political science professor at Queens College, it's absolutely outrageous this could happen on a New York City...campus."
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