Behind the Myth

    What you won't hear from the David Project

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Myth: The students who have recently complained of "intimidation"
    by MEALAC professorsdid all that they could to voice their concerns
    before turning to their current campaign, but found no one willing to
    hear.

    Fact

    No complaints about these MEALAC professor have been filed,
    according to Susan Brown, Columbia’s assistant vice president for
    public affairs.

    A Columbia Hillel spokeswoman reported knowing of no complaints
    ever filed against MEALAC professors.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Myth: Students at Columbia simply do not have an opportunity to
    learn about Israel from pro-Israeli perspective.

    Fact

    Columbia's Center for Israel and Jewish Studies has 13 full-time
    affiliated professors, soon to be 14.

    MEALAC itself has leading minds on the study of Israel who stand in
    strong disagreement with Professors Massad, Dabashi, and Saliba
    on many issues.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Myth: Professor Joseph Massad told a student in his classroom that
    "Zion" means "penis" in Hebrew.

    Fact:

    Professor Massad has never claimed that "Zion" means "penis" in
    Hebrew.  It is an uncontroversial fact that "zayin" means both "penis"
    and "weapon" in Hebrew and Professor Massad brought this up in a
    class discussion of Israeli militarized masculinity.  The student in
    question misunderstood Professor Massad but has failed to correct
    this misconception.

    However, even though Professor Massad has explained the
    misunderstanding, and despite the fact that this is a ridiculous
    accusation to launch at a Professor of his caliber, this distortion of
    the truth continues to be propagated irresponsibly by individuals such
    as David Project President Charles Jacobs.  

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Myth: Dr. Joseph Massad is a dogmatic professor who does not allow
    pro-Israeli voices in his classes.

    Fact

    Dr. Massad has won an award in teaching and is widely loved by his
    students, be they Arab, Jewish, Zionist, anti-Zionist, or otherwise. He
    consistently allows his students to air staunchly pro-Zionist views in
    class.

    Dr. Massad's book, Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity
    in Jordan, has been widely acclaimed as a trailblazing contribution to
    the field of Middle East studies and received the Middle East Studies
    Association's Malcolm Kerr Dissertation Award.  Would a dogmatist
    who leaves no room for critical thought win such acclaim? We believe
    his colleagues are a better judge of his abilities as an academic than
    Daniel Pipes and group of students who have never taken his class.

    See: http://www.columbia.
    edu/cu/cup/catalog/data/023112/0231123221.HTM


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Myth: Columbia is a hostile environment for Jewish and Zionist
    students and is a hotbed of anti-Semitism.

    Fact

    Columbia is one of the most welcoming campuses in the U.S. for
    Jewish students and has a thriving Jewish community.

    Students and faculty participate in a variety of pro-Zionist activities,
    including courses, talks, panel discussions, debates, and trips to
    Israel.

    "It is a crazy, crazy exaggeration to claim that Jews are under attack
    at Columbia or that the faculty is anti-Semitic. . . . No one has seen
    the video . . . . There is no video to see. There's a cloud of videos
    constantly changing. It's innuendo and gossip." Robert Pollack,
    Professor of Biological Sciences and Former Dean of Columbia
    College

    "[S]ome commentators go further to suggest that anti-Semitism is
    pervasive at Columbia. This is simply not the case. As an observant
    Jew, I am entirely at home at Columbia. We were the first American
    university to establish a chair in Jewish studies, and we now have
    six such chairs. A substantial percentage of the students and faculty
    are Jewish, and we have launched countless Jewish graduates to
    extraordinary careers." Dean David Schizer, Columiba Law School

    "The idea that Columbia is a place that's unfriendly to Jewish students
    or Israel studies is a calumny." Michael Stanislawski,  Nathan J. Miller
    Professor of Jewish History, Columbia.


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Myth: The students accusing MEALAC professors of intimidation are
    only concerned with conduct in the classroom that silences student
    speech and are not attacking the content of the professors'
    scholarship or lectures.

    Fact:

    They have blasted the Ad Hoc Committee report for failing to address
    the larger question of "bias" in Middle Easter studies scholarship at
    Columbia.

    They have consistently called for "rebalancing the biases in Middle
    Eastern studies."

    For example, Ariel Beery, the self-appointed champion of the students
    in the film Columbia Unbecoming has himself repeatedly called for a
    remaking of how Middle Eastern Studies is taught at Columbia.
    For example, witness the following excerpt from an article he wrote in
    the Columbia school newspaper:

    "[Massad also] says that the claim that Israel is democratic is
    no more than a ‘propagandistic image.’… th[is]…charge on Israel should
    again disqualify Massad from teaching at Columbia."

    These statements are part of a larger pattern of criticism of the
    content of what is written and taught by these professors. Thus, the
    students and outside groups like the David Project have made it  
    vividly clear that they seek a change in the content of Middle
    Eastern studies scholarship and instruction at Columbia. This is a
    dangerous idea, one that threatens the freedom of professors to
    teach and denies the validity of voices that are critical of Israeli
    government policy.

    See: On Propaganda and Letter to the Editor of the Columbia
    Spectator


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Myth: Professor Joseph Massad informs his students before each
    class that he would be teaching from a "biased" perspective and
    not to expect "balance."

    Fact:

    This is one of the most dishonest misrepresentations to come out of
    this affair.

    In the syllabus to his Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Societies,
    Professor Massad writes the following: "The purpose of the course is
    not to provide a 'balanced' coverage of the views of both sides, but
    rather to provide a thorough yet critical historical overview of the
    Zionist-Palestinian conflict to familiarize undergraduates with the
    background to the current situation from a critical perspective."

    This does not mean that he will teach from "unbalanced" perspective,
    but that the course is not about retelling and "balancing" the traditional
    Israeli or Palestinian versions or narratives of the conflict against each
    other; the purpose is to take a critical view of both Israeli and
    Palestinian societies.

    Massad's statement is, thus, the diametrical opposite of the one the
    "Columbians for Academic Freedom," Alan Dershowitz and others  
    have either carelessly or dishonestly attributed to him.


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