Middle East studies in the News
Fire this professor, Columbia
The academic year is ending, and with it should close the Columbia University career of Joseph Massad - bully, propagandist and perpetrator of deeply offensive teachings about Jews. Columbia must let him go.
To do so will require courage on the part of the trustees and of President Lee Bollinger. They will face the wrath of the many faculty members who have rushed like lemmings to defend Massad because, well, they oppose anyone passing judgment on what they do.
Bollinger and the trustees, led by NBA Commissioner David Stern, have been walking a fine line in the apparent hope that Massad's colleagues will have the sense to usher him off campus. That's how it should work, but with Massad positioning himself as an oppressed champion of academic freedom, we have grave doubts the faculty will come through.
Which puts the onus on Bollinger, Stern & Co. It is time for them to articulate the values that will be paramount at Columbia by speaking, directly and clearly, about Massad's fitness for teaching there. Charged with leading this premier institution, they must declare themselves: Is Massad welcome in the fold? Yes or no. There's no multiple choice.
Massad teaches in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, a group deeply biased against Israel. His views are especially repugnant. In a recently published article, for example, Massad argued that as a group, Israeli Jews suffer from a kind of deep-seated character defect that drives them to victimize Palestinians and - follow this - transforms Jews into anti-Semites and Palestinians into Jews.
Against that backdrop, students charged that the department's professors had squelched opposing views in a zeal to promote a pro-Palestinian orthodoxy. After investigating, a faculty committee concluded 10 days ago that Massad had ordered one student out of his classroom after she asked whether Israel ever warned Palestinians about bombings and challenged another student, a former Israeli soldier, to "tell us how many Palestinians you have killed."
As a consequence, and the only consequence, Columbia's administration referred the matter to other committees that, by accident of timing, happen to be reviewing whether Massad will stay on a track toward tenure. While this course of action upholds academic etiquette - and may placate the faculty - it fails the university by leaving open the question of whether it's acceptable to breach teaching standards at Columbia.
Tomorrow would be an ideal moment to hear an answer. For tomorrow, Bollinger is scheduled to unveil grievance procedures by which students can complain about classroom intimidation by professors such as Massad. The students can fairly question whether there's any point in complaining as long as the university shrouds Massad's case in faceless, unaccountable peer review.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.
Campus Watch contact e-mail: email@example.com