Middle East studies in the News
Israel Is Accused of Anti-Semitism
Joseph Massad, an assistant professor at Columbia University, is taking a stand against anti-Semitism.
But his target isn't Arab suicide bombers or the former Malaysian prime minister. It's the state of Israel.
In an article published in the December 25-31 issue of the Al-Ahram Weekly newspaper, Mr. Massad accuses Israel of advancing a virulent form of anti-Semitism.
"[M]ost Palestinians have always understood the anti-Semitic nature of Israel, its persistent attempts to claim anti-Semitically that all Jews have the ‘same' opinion of Zionism, that they all support it, that it represents them all, and that any attack or criticism of it is anti-Semitic since it, Israel, is the Jewish people," he wrote.
The article, titled "Reducing the Palestinians,"was reprinted on the Web site of the Electronic Intifada, an online publication that champions the Palestinian Arab intifada against Israel.
Offering historical context, Mr. Massad compares what he considers Israel's anti-Semitism with the "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," the fabricated account of a cabal of Jews plotting to rule the world concocted by the czarist Russian secret police in the early 1900s.
"Such anti-Semitic claims that flatten world Jewry as some cohesive group with an international agenda à la Protocols of the Elders of Zion would produce much uproar if their authors were not Zionism and the State of Israel," he wrote. "Indeed the claim advanced by Israel and its apologists that criticism of Israel is ‘anti-Semitic' is the most anti-Semitic claim of all, rendering all Jews around the world represented by this one state and claiming that they all approve of its atrocities and crimes against humanity."
In his article, Mr. Massad argues that the chief negotiators of the unofficial peace plan known as the Geneva Accord,Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo, are guilty of the same form of anti-Semitism by recognizing the right of the Jewish people to statehood.
Susan Heller Pinto, a spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks anti-Semitism around the world, called Mr. Massad's description of Israeli anti-Semitism "not worthy of comment."
"We believe that Israel is a Jewish state," she said. "By trying to make it only a state of the Israelis, he's denying the legitimacy of the Jewish state."
Indeed, in his article Mr. Massad writes, "Israel has no legitimacy."
A spokesman for the consulate general of Israel in New York said Mr. Massad's article wasn't "worthy" of a response.
Mr. Massad was unavailable for comment yesterday.
A modern Arab politics professor at Columbia's Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, he is one of the school's harshest critics of Israel,which he frequently describes as a racist and Jewish supremacist state.
Critics of Middle Eastern studies in America who say the field has an anti-Israeli bent often cite him as a prime example.
He teaches a course called "Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Societies" that "provides a historical overview of the Zionist Palestinian conflict to familiarize undergraduates with the background of the current situation," according to Columbia's course guide.
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