Middle East studies in the News
Columbia Gives Tenure to Controversial Professor, Joseph Massad [incl. Nadia Abu el Haj]
by Jerry Gordon
Today's New York Post had this disquieting revelation by columnist Jacob Gershman: Columbia University has granted tenure to notorious Israel and gay bashing, Professor Joseph Massad. Massad was a central figure in the David project documentary, "Columbia Unbecoming" that roiled the Morningside Heights campus in 2005 and 2006. The film portrayed allegations by Columbia students about anti-Semitism and anti-Israel statements by faculty in the Middle East Arts Language and Culture (MEALAC) program . In the film a former IDF soldier and Columbia Student relates how he was rebuked by Massad and questioned, " how many Palestinians did he kill.?"
Massad's appointment is not the first Columbia University tenure controversy. Last year we had another event, the tenure of Nadia Abu el Haj of the anthropology faculty at Barnard College. Abu El Haj had published a controversial book denying the ancient Jewish heritage and provenance of Israel. That was preceded by the appointment in 2005 of Rashid Khalidi to the Edward Said Chair of Middle East History endowed with significant Saudi money. Khalidi was a colleague of President Obama in his days as a junior Illinois Senator, when they were both on the faculty at the University of Chicago.
Massad, as the Gershman New York Post column points out, has bizarre views on Israel and gays:
Columbia's process for reviewing tenure candidates is as rigorous as any Ivy League school's. Ordinarily, an academic of Massad's caliber would be bounced from Morningside Heights. And in fact, the system did work -- it denied Massad tenure two years ago.
But now the school's academic standards have succumbed to ideological tensions and campus politics -- in what appears to be a remarkable manipulation of the tenure process and a breach of fiduciary trust.
First, a little background on Massad.
A Christian secularist of Palestinian-Arab descent, Massad has dedicated his academic career primarily to encouraging the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. Criticism of Israel is far from unusual in his field, but Massad goes much further, taking arguments to bizarre ends. "The ultimate achievement of Israel," he writes, is "the transformation of the Jew into the anti-Semite, and the Palestinian into the Jew." In a book, he rails against the "Zionist theft of Palestinian Arab food (e.g., hummus, falafel)."
In a recent work, "Desiring Arabs," Massad claimed to expose yet another plot against the Muslim world -- the "Gay International." He describes how a vast conspiracy of gay activists descended on Arab countries and endangered the lives of "practitioners of same-sex contact" by transforming them into "subjects who identify as 'homosexual' and 'gay.' "
So, if Massad's tenure was side tracked two years ago, how did he gain a tenure appointment, now? Gershman reveals how:
But faculty members opted instead to lionize Massad as a supposed martyr of academic freedom. A crucial ally for him was Dean of Arts and Sciences Nicholas Dirks, whose wife taught a class with Massad.
In 2007, months after Massad completed his latest book, a committee rejected his tenure application. Tenure candidates rarely get a second shot at Columbia, but Dirks intervened and pushed for a second committee, sources say.
Oddly, the professor who led the first review of Massad refused to serve again. Even odder, the administration justified the do-over by claiming that Massad had switched his field of specialty from political science to cultural studies.
After the second committee approved Massad, President Lee Bollinger and Provost Alan Brinkley took extraordinary measures to protect the secrecy of Massad's tenure case and guard against an outcry from Jewish alumni and donors.
The last step in the process was the trustees. The administration refused to share with the trustees any list of who was on the two tenure committees. The board was also kept in the dark as to why Massad failed the first review. Bollinger and Brinkley also refused to discuss in detail why Massad was permitted another shot.
Massad's tenure appointment puts the nail in the coffin about what passes for academic leadership and governance at Columbia.
For those fellow alumni who had thought that vocal opposition and supporting evidence of Massad's lack of qualifications would prevent this turn of events, they were naively wrong.
Bollinger and Brinkley have connived with the cabal of left radical academics on the College and University tenure and promotion committee to reward Massad's Gobbelian anti-Israel, anti-Gay and anti-Semitic screed. Surely, Obama's former University of Chicago colleague Rashid Khalidi, Director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia's School of International Public Affairs must be overjoyed at the prospect of tenure for Massad.
Like the tenure appointment of Nadia Abu el-Haj in the anthropology at Barnard, the Massad tenure appointment is all about rewarding Meta fiction and degradation of the merest scholarly standards at Columbia .
Massad at Columbia's MEALAC faculty, Abu El-Haj over at Barnard and the late Edward Said are Christian dhimmis supporting cultural Jihad and the myth of Orientalism. (See Ibn Warriq's critical analysis of Said and Orientalism in his book, " Defending the West. ") Is this the equivalent of a Stockholm syndrome? After all these Christian Arabs are supporting the Jihadi killers of their own threatened minority in the Middle East. I suspect they are misguided Arab nationalists like the late Orthodox Christian George Habash, who co-founded the Marxist terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. They have adopted the Islamic Jihad creed and are consumed with hatred towards Jews who had the chutzpah to reclaim the ancient Jewish homeland.
Good thing the recession has diminished Columbia's endowment. Now fellow alum who gave freely of their largess can claim that their purses are closed for economic self preservation reasons. Jewish alumni in particular, ought to have turned away in disgust back in 2005 with the Khalidi appointment. Last year's Abu El-Haj appointment at Barnard College and now this Massad tenure appointment at Columbia are mounting evidence that President Bollinger and Provost Brinkley have abetted the cultural jihad on campus. They have kept trustees in the dark about the shenanigans employed in the Massad tenure announcement this month and besmirched both the university's and their professional reputations. Bollinger as you may recall was a First Amendment legal scholar.
Columbia has clearly become a post-modernist academic institution par excellence. Massad's tortuous tenure track is just the latest evidence of the devolution of academic freedom and scholarship on Morningside Heights. Pity!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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