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Dissent and anti-semitism: Intimidation at Columbia University

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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-10-04 06:08 AM
Original message
Dissent and anti-semitism: Intimidation at Columbia University
by Joseph Massad
November 09, 2004
Al-Ahram


Joseph Massad, assistant professor at Columbia University and Al-Ahram Weekly contributing writer, is the latest target in an ongoing witch-hunt launched by pro-Israel groups within American academia. Below is a statement he issued in response.


The recent controversy elicited by the propaganda film Columbia Unbecoming, a film funded and produced by a Boston-based pro- Israel organisation, is the latest salvo in a campaign of intimidation of Jewish and non-Jewish professors who criticise Israel. This witch-hunt aims to stifle pluralism, academic freedom, and the freedom of expression on university campuses in order to ensure that only one opinion is permitted, that of uncritical support for the State of Israel.

Columbia University, the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, and I personally, have been the target of this intensified campaign for over three years. Pro-Israel groups are pressuring the university to abandon proper academic procedure in evaluating scholarship, and want to force the university to silence all critical opinions. Such silencing, the university has refused to do so far, despite mounting intimidation tactics by these anti-democratic and anti-academic forces.

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.

<snip>

I am now being targeted because of my public writings and statements through the charge that I am allegedly intolerant in the classroom, a charge based on statements made by people who were never my students, except in one case which I will address momentarily. Let me first state that I have intimidated no one. In fact, Tomy Schoenfeld, the Israeli soldier who appears in the film and is cited by the New York Sun, has never been my student and has never taken a class with me, as he himself informed The Jewish Week. I have never met him.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=1...
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cali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-10-04 06:15 AM
Response to Original message
1. Before I make a judgement
I like to see both sides, and I don't consider zmag as an unbiased source.
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-10-04 06:19 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I'm not waiting with bated breath for yr judgement...
Edited on Wed Nov-10-04 06:23 AM by Violet_Crumble
..but I am kind of curious to know why you don't realise that there's a certain degree of bias in all media, and what it is about zmag to doubt it's credibility (a different thing than bias, and the article originally appeared in Al Ahram). Dunno, if yr keen on getting both sides, why don't you ask Columbia if those folk that claimed they were this guy's students if they were in any of his classes. Me, I've got no reason to believe that he's lying, because he was quite happy to say that only one of them had actually been his student...

Violet...
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sabbat hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-10-04 07:31 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. the NY sun
is to the right of the new york post. so the original quote from the soldier is dubious at best to me

david

:hippie:
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ashiebr Donating Member (198 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 06:19 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. You mean if the guy...........
.....published his own story in another journal you'd believe him more???
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IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 08:38 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. If it is not the Jerusalem Post, or Tom Friedman, it is not credible
Edited on Sun Nov-14-04 08:39 PM by IndianaGreen
The point is that divesture from Israel is morally equivalent to divesture from apartheid South Africa. Let Israel bear the full cost of the Occupation.
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Jim Sagle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 12:16 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Chickenshit bullshit.
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sir_captain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 04:12 AM
Response to Original message
4. I'm a current Columbia student
and I've seen the film. I honestly think the way that some Jewish students have been treated at Columbia is utterly beyond the pale--not all of them, and not by everyone, obviously--but in some cases. There are a lot of shocked people here, and I don't think that we're all simply being hoodwinked by the pro-Israeli lobby, and I would say that that accusation is rather pernicious in and of itself.
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 01:15 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. A question...
If there's academic bullying going on, then why did this private pro-Israeli group (btw, have you seen their website?) produce a film where people lied about being students of this professor?

Realising that Columbia students who have seen the film are one step ahead on things, I went and had a bit of a dig around to see if yr take was representative. What I found was this about the premiere of the film:

"This is not a conflict between Jewish students and everyone else on campus. Hundreds of students turned out to the films premier. In the discussion period following the film, many Jews braved a largely hostile atmosphere to challenge the validity of the documentary, and voiced their opposition to the harassment of MEALAC. They spoke passionately in defense of Professor Massad, and the harassment leveled at Jews on campus who criticize Israel. Stephanie Schwartz, a student at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), a self-identified anti-Zionist Jew, spoke of the daily haranguing that she faces for wearing a keffiyeh (a Palestinian scarf) in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

Schwartz explains that: The dialogue about Israel at JTS is extremely narrow. I can say that I don't agree with all of Ariel Sharon's policies, but it's almost unheard of for someone to say that they don't support Israel's right to attack Palestinians. One of my professors, in a discussion about all of the various movements of Judaism in America today, said that the only thing that unites American Jews is support for Israel. It's just assumed that we're all Zionists. The tragedy is that Jews cannot study their history and religion without being bombarded by Zionism. The red herring of this debate is that the small number of students who made this film claim to speak for the experience of all Jews. Meanwhile they continue to make life difficult for anti-Zionist Jews and non-Jews alike on campus."


http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article3296.shtml

And this one from another Columbia student:

At times, Columbia Unbecoming incriminates itself. One interviewee claims that a professor tried to silence her by looking into her eyes, mentioning her eye color, and so determining that she wasnt a Semite. Silence, silence, silence me, she repeats over and over again, evoking the concept of anti-Semitism every time she follows silence with Semite. Yes, the story she tells is a bit scary, but it only holds up if we ignore the rest of the interview. She explains that this incident occurred during an after-class discussion with her teacher. This professor who was trying to silence and intimidate heryes, thats right, silence and intimidate herapparently was so determined to do so that he spoke with her for 45 minutes out of class. If only my professors were so determined to shut me up.

The film has little to no hard evidence of failures of academic integrity. Much like the electoral campaigns, it uses talking points in place of pesky, verifiable facts. While the editors clearly had a few words which they sought to emphasize, one begins to wonder whether the interviewees knew about them too. Words like intimidate and silence pop up all too often in the same contexts; some interviewees sound like they have rehearsed their lines.


http://www.columbiaspectator.com/vnews/display.v/ART/20...


Violet...






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Zhade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 03:14 PM
Response to Original message
9. Juan Cole's been writing excellent stuff on this subject.
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-16-04 02:53 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Thanks for the link!
I've just taken a look through it and it looks like he writes a lot of excellent stuff on a whole bunch of stuff, including this topic. That's a site I'm bookmarking...

Violet...
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Zhade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-16-04 04:08 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. He's a daily read for me.
Your blog would be, too, if you updated it more! :)

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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-17-04 01:11 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. I don't get inspired all that often...
..though now uni's over for the year, maybe I'll have a few more little bursts and coax the blog into a bit of life. Thanks for reminding me that I hadn't deposited anything there for a while. I just blew the dust off it :)

Violet...
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