Joseph Massad, Zionism and Academic Freedom in America
4 November 2004

Re:
FrontPage magazine.com :: Bollinger's Blindness by New York Sun.
The original editorial from October 22, 2004 can be found here.

I'm always willing to criticize academics who abuse their positions. See my blog entry Arguing for Argument, where I discuss the egregious classroom conduct of Professor Clifton Snider. As to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I have sympathies for the people on both sides, but, politically, since the Israelis have been stealing Palestinian land, I side with the Palestinians, although I certainly do not approve of the terrorist actions taken by some Palestinians. There is so much violence going back and forth, I really can't see either side as totally virtuous or totally evil. If I could have my wish, I'd like to see all Semitic people (except for a few grocers, lawyers, restaurant owners, film makers, professors, gas station operators and commedians) in the U.S.A. go back to the Middle east and learn to live in peace with each other on their ancient lands. Ah, a U.S.A. not all tied up in hatreds going back over 3000 years. Wow, what a dream! In my opinion, any ethnic hatreds that go back more than 500 years are necessarily un-American. ;)

In spite of my general orientation, I'm more than willing to criticize Palestinian sympathizers when they employ un-American political tactics. See my blog entry A Denunciation of Leftwing Thuggery, which I wrote just two days ago.

Today I am criticizing supporters of the state of Israel for, among other things, their attempt to have a non-tenured professor at Columbia University fired. The main complaint in the New York Sun editorial is that some professors at Columbia strongly dislike the State of Israel. Concerning Professor Joseph Massad, the editorial states:

Mr. Massad is not shy about his hatred for Israel, a country whose legitimacy as a Jewish state he denies and whose policies he routinely calls "racist." He is the professor, as described in an underground film produced by the Boston-based David Project, who upon completing a lecture refused to answer a question from an Israeli student but ordered the student to say how many Palestinians he killed as a soldier. Rep. Anthony Weiner is absolutely correct to call, as he did yesterday, for Columbia to fire him.
That is the only actual incident reported in the editorial. Note how vaguely it is described. Did Massad allow any questions after the lecture? What question was asked? Since that information is omitted, I presume it was something rather inflamatory, quite possibly deserving the response by Professor Massad. Also, my guess is that the questioner was deliberately trying to provoke a harsh reply, so that it could be "described" in an "underground" film. Visualize Michael Moore with a yarmulke.

There are other outrageous themes in the editorial: the idea that the interests of the U.S.A. and of Israel are the same and the idea that critics of Israeli policies are "enemies of freedom and demorcacy." Most outrageous of all is its suggestion that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon be given an honorary degree by Columbia.

The actual politics behind the editorial is farily obvious. I would go so far as to suppose that the editorial writers' real problem with Bollinger isn't that he is blind, but that he sees things all too clearly.

*

For further information, see 'Witch-Hunt' Laid to 'Pro-Israel Groups' - November 4, 2004 - The New York Sun and Joseph Massad's statement.

 
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