Middle East studies in the News
Cover Up at the Post [incl. Joseph Massad, Nadia Abu El-Haj]
by Charles Jacobs
A few weeks ago, we caught the Washington Post in a whopper. But they escaped unharmed – so far. The Post published a story about tensions between Columbia University President Lee Bollinger and his faculty. It reported that the University is still "roiled" by the visit of Iranian president Ahmadinejad – and described how the Arab and Muslim faculty in particular feel aggrieved by Bollinger's harshly honest words of introduction to the Persian tyrant.
It also explained how some faculty members are angry at Bollinger for being a problem in other areas relating to the Middle East. At bottom, one senior faculty member told the Post that this entire mater is "about tenure."
A recent tenure fight at Barnard involved the egregious Nadia Abu El-Haj, who denies there was an ancient Israel in Biblical times. She was ultimately approved for tenure, but not without controversy. Her shoddy scholarship was assailed publicly by scholars and alumni alike, but the faculty's real problem may be that Bollinger didn't rush to her public defense. And the real problem for them currently is that Joseph Massad's tenure is still up in the air.
Massad, apart from seeming to agree with Ahmadinejad that there are no gays in the Muslim world like in the West, is famous for being accused in the David Project's film, "Columbia Unbecoming," as a harasser of pro-Israel students inside his classroom. One student testified that he told her, "If you deny Israeli atrocities, get out of my class." Columbia's own investigation reprimanded him for that.
As anyone who reads reports by CAMERA or eyeonthepost.com knows, the Post is not a fan of Israel. So it discredited the students by reporting that "the school was rocked by accusations from a group of radical Jewish students of intimidation by Middle East language professors." But these students were anything but "radicals." The only thing "radical" about them was that they decided they had had enough of Massad's bullying.
I wrote a letter to the editor explaining that "as anyone who viewed the film would know, the students were … soft-spoken, articulate centrists and progressives who wanted to protect their own free speech in classrooms where only Arabist viewpoints were taught, valued or permitted."
(It turned out that a Post editor inserted the word "radical" in the story – without telling the writer.)
The Post called, indicating they would publish my letter but decided hours later to print a small "correction" instead, which appeared along with four or five other corrections whose errors were of spelling or grammar or geography. Here was the Washington Post at its most brilliant. It was not "caught" imposing its preconceived anti-Israel story line. It was just an "error." Like a spelling error or a mistaken date. Right.
And so, gentle reader, the Post's "correction" is a cover up. The Washington Post editor just knows pro-Israeli Jews are radical – he knew it before he read the story or saw the film. He couldn't think any other thought. He works for the Washington 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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