Thursday, November 04, 2004


Joseph Massad responds

There is a lengthy response by Joseph Massad to the campaign to have him fired from Columbia available on Electronic Intifada. I recommend reading the entire thing (as it is quite eloquent and goes in depth into some of the specific accusations against him) but here are a few excerpts that I found particularly good.
The major strategy that these pro-Israel groups use is one that equates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. But the claim that criticism of Israel is an expression of anti-Semitism presupposes that Israeli actions are "Jewish" actions and that all Jews, whether Israelis or non-Israelis (and the majority of world Jews are not Israelis), are responsible for all Israeli actions and that they all have the same opinion of Israel. But this is utter anti-Semitic nonsense. Jews, whether in America, Europe, Israel, Russia, or Argentina, are, like all other groups, not uniform in their political or social opinions. There are many Israeli Jews who are critical of Israel just as there are American Jews who criticize Israeli policy. I have always made a distinction between Jews, Israelis, and Zionists in my writings and my lectures. It is those who want to claim that Jews, Israelis, and Zionists are one group (and that they think exactly alike) who are the anti-Semites. Israel in fact has no legal, moral, or political basis to represent world Jews (ten million strong) who never elected it to that position and who refuse to move to that country. Unlike the pro-Israel groups, I do not think that Israeli actions are "Jewish" actions or that they reflect the will of the Jewish people worldwide!


This is not to say that some anti-Zionists may not also be anti-Semitic. Some are, and I have denounced them in my writings and lectures. But the test of their anti-Semitism is not whether they like or hate Israel. The test of anti-Semitism is anti-Jewish hatred, not anti-Israel criticism. In my forthcoming book, The Persistence of the Palestinian Question, I link the Jewish Question to the Palestinian Question and conclude that both questions persist because anti-Semitism persists. To resolve the Palestinian and the Jewish Questions, our task is to fight anti-Semitism in any guise, whether in its pro-Israel or anti-Israel guise, and not to defend the reprehensible policies of the racist Israeli government.


I am dedicated to all my students, many of whom are Jewish. Neither Columbia University nor I have ever received a complaint from any student claiming intimidation or any such nonsense. Students at Columbia have many venues of lodging complaints, whether with the student deans and assistant deans, school deans and assistant deans, department chairmen, departmental directors of undergraduate studies, the ombudsman's office, the provost, the president, and the professors themselves. No such complaint was ever filed. Many of my Jewish and non-Jewish students (including my Arab students) differ with me in all sorts of ways, whether on politics or on philosophy or theory. This is exactly what teaching and learning are about, how to articulate differences and understand other perspectives while acquiring knowledge, how to analyze one's own perspective and those of others, how to interrogate the basis of an opinion.


Moreover, the class that this propaganda machine is targeting, my Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Societies course, is one of a number of courses offered at Columbia that cover the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. All the others have an Israel-friendly perspective, including Naomi Weinberger's "Conflict Resolution in the Middle East," Michael Stanislawski's "History of the State of Israel, 1948-Present" and a course offered in my own department by my colleague Dan Miron, "Zionism: A Cultural Perspective." My course, which is critical of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism, is in fact an elective course which no student is forced to take....
Indeed with this campaign against me going into its fourth year, I chose under the duress of coercion and intimidation not to teach my course this year. It is my academic freedom that has been circumscribed. But not only mine. The Columbia courses that remain are all taught from an Israel-friendly angle.

I agree that it is very eloquent. Covers most of the arguments against the Fascist Israeli State.

The sad thing is it's hard to fight for the truth when the its cornered into minority public opinion and the rest are being told what to think instead of deciding for themselves.

I guess Election '04 is a testament to that.
Here's the thing: the rest aren't being told what to think. They are backing those who voice their opinions in such a way that opposition is silenced and/or scorned. There is a significant difference between bovine acquiescence and active albeit tacit agreement. Because, as we have seen just last week, tacit can become explicit with a bit of push-polling on the right rabid button.

What has happened to Joe Massad is terrible and frightening. MEMRI and other Wurmser-Pipes-Ledeen infested groups are not going to stop using these types of tactics against anyone they deem vulnerable. What is terrible is that all it takes, apparently, is making the charge of anti-semitism; the accused is then irreparably harmed no matter how thoroughly he or she or they may be able to rebut the accusation. The Wurmser-Pipes-Ledeen gangs are simply going to keep on making the charge unless legally stopped from doing so.

Of course, MEMRI is hoping to achieve two dead birds with this stone -- the goal is also to undercut and ultimately destroy the "liberal" academic establishment. So Horowitz needs to be added to the string of names above.
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