Monday, February 14, 2005


Alan Dershowitz on Columbia University's Approach to Academic Freedom

Columbia, when it comes to hatred of Israel, has become France on the Hudson.

Carrying on the tradition is Joseph Massad, one of Said's followers and an untenured professor in the Middle East department. I am told that he is a mediocre scholar whose main claim to fame is his vocal extremism.

Yet he is likely to receive tenure, largely because there are some on the Columbia faculty who fear that denying him tenure would open the school to criticism from anti-Israel zealots around the world.

A Columbia committee is looking into charges that Massad denied some students academic freedom in his classroom. According to one student, and at least one other witness, she raised her hand during a discussion of Israel's incursions into the West Bank to point out that Israel often issued warnings to civilians prior to its bombings. Massad allegedly replied:

"If you're going to deny the atrocities being committed against the Palestinian people, then you can get out of my classroom."

The committee appointed to look into the charges includes, among others, at least two anti-Israel extremists. They signed a petition calling for Columbia to divest only from Israel, a democracy struggling to fight against terrorism.

By singling out Israel for economic capital punishment and ignoring such real violators of human rights as Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Libya, the Sudan and China, these committee members have demonstrated their own bigotry against the Jewish nation.

Read the rest here. Reasoned discourse about what is going on is one thing. Rabid anti- type behavior is another thing. I posted this because higher ed seems to have become a home for those who have axes to grind in nasty ways. Ward Churchill, and a number of others have recently hit the national spotlight as poster children for hate groups. Hate groups are a bad thing on the left and on the right. But it's particularly sad when we give the sanction of academia, with its veneer of reasoned, learned respectability, to those who would transmit hate rather than true analysis.

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