Statement to the Ad Hoc Committee1

    March 14, 2005
    Joseph Massad

    I have prepared a statement to read to you.  I would be happy to
    answer your questions afterwards. Before I begin, however, I want to
    ascertain that as professor Katzneslson has informed me, the only
    complaints that your committee has heard about me are the two
    complaints that the press reported from my students, namely the
    complaint by Noah Liben and the complaint by Deena Shanker. As for
    the complaint by Tomy Schoenfeld, who was not my student, I presume,
    his case is irrelevant to this body, as your mandate states that “as a
    result of the expression of concern by a number of students that they
    were being intimidated by faculty members and being excluded from
    participating fully in classroom discussions because of their views,” you
    are expected “to identify cases where there appear to be violations of
    the obligation to create a civil and tolerant teaching environment.”2 If
    there are any other complaints against me, unless I am told what they
    are and who made them, and the date and place where they allegedly
    took place, I shall not respond to them.

    I appear before you today because of a campaign of intimidation to
    which I have been subjected for over three years. While this campaign
    was started by certain members of the Columbia faculty, and by outside
    forces using some of my students as conduits, it soon expanded to
    include members of the Columbia administration, the rightwing tabloid
    press, the Israeli press, and more locally the Columbia Spectator. Much
    of this preceded the David Project film “Columbia Unbecoming,” and the
    ensuing controversy. In the following statement, I will provide you with
    the history of this coordinated campaign, including the facts pertaining
    to the intimidation to which I am being subjected by the Columbia
    University administration, most manifestly through the convening of your
    own committee before which I appear today out of a combined sense of
    intimidation and obligation and not because I recognize its legitimacy.
    You need to bear with the details of the following narrative, as the
    campaign of intimidation against me is most insidious in its details.

    I started teaching at Columbia in the Fall of 1999. At the conclusion of
    my first academic year, during which I taught my class on Palestinian
    and Israeli Politics and Societies, I received a Certificate of Appreciation
    for teaching presented by "The Students of Columbia College, Class of
    2000," and was nominated and was one of the two finalists for the Van
    Doren teaching award which went that year to Professor Michael
    Stanislawski.  In my second year, I began to be told of whispers about
    my class on Palestinian and Israeli politics and Societies. Jewish
    Students in my class in the Spring 2001 would tell me that I was the main
    topic of discussion at the Jewish Theological Seminary and at Hillel and
    that my class is making the Zionists on campus angry. I took such
    reports lightly, as the class had doubled in size from the first year. I did
    notice however that the class included some cantankerous students who
    insisted on scoring political points during the lectures. I would always
    defuse the situation by allowing all questions to be asked and by
    attempting to answer them informatively. I would do so in class and
    during office hours. I had strong positive evaluations from most of my
    students with some complaining that the class was biased. Although my
    course description explained that “The purpose of the course is to
    provide a thorough yet critical historical overview of the Zionist-
    Palestinian conflict to familiarize undergraduates with the background to
    the current situation,”3 I decided in the following year (Spring 2002) to
    emphasize that point more clearly. The course description read as
    The course examines critically the impact of Zionism on European Jews
    and on Asian and African Jews on the one hand, and on Palestinian
    Arabs on the other --in Israel, in the Occupied Territories, and in the
    Diaspora.  The course also examines critically the internal dynamics in
    Palestinian and Israeli societies, looking at the roles class, gender, and
    religion play in the politics of Israel and the Palestinian national
    movement.  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.4

    The point of the class description is to make sure the students
    understood that no side was being presented, neither the Palestinian
    nor the Zionist side, but rather that this was a course that was critical of
    both Zionism and Palestinian nationalism.  When I taught the class in
    2004, after returning from my sabbatical, I decided to remove the
    sentence on “balance,” especially after CampusWatch began to attack
    me for including it, to which I will return below. I removed it.5

      It was with this as background that I started my Spring 2002 semester.
    My Palestinian and Israeli course seemed to have a more cantankerous
    crowd that year than before. Even though this year, the class had two
    discussion sections to accommodate the number of students, a number
    of students insisted on having discussions during the lecture. Some
    would bring with them a pro-Israel lobby propaganda book from which
    they would insist on reading in class. I would let them.

    One student in particular stood out. A smart older student in General
    Studies, who identified herself as having a South African Jewish
    background, would insist on asking many questions every lecture, most
    of which were about scoring political points. The class had over 80
    students and therefore it was difficult to accommodate such a large
    number of questions from students. No matter, I decided to let her ask
    all her questions in every lecture in order to make her feel comfortable
    and that she feel that the class is a space where she could express
    herself freely. She would E-mail me asking for exact sources for
    information that I would give in class. I would E-mail her back what she
    needed. For a while, it seemed that I was her research assistant, which I
    was happy to do, in order to teach her that there are indeed scholarly
    sources and scholarly answers to her political queries. I later found out
    from other students that she was circulating a petition in the class to
    have me fired from Columbia. I asked her after class one day if that was
    the case, and told her that if it were so, that she would be free to
    circulate it outside of class, not inside. She smiled back without comment.

    I saw her on college walk one day after Spring break. She came up to
    me and told me that she had just been to Israel and the Occupied
    Territories and expressed how bad she felt about the situation there.
    She apologized about the petition and told me that she had been
    approached “from the outside” to do it but she had dropped the matter.  
    She spoke of people at the medical school and others from outside the
    university who were behind the idea, but did not provide details. I did not

     Another student of mine (now at the School of International and Public
    Affairs), who self-identified as a “Likudnik,” also approached me on
    campus one day during the Spring 2002 semester, telling me that he
    and a few other students had been invited to see a female professor at
    the medical school.  He described that the meeting was so
    “surreptitious” and “conspiratorial,” that it felt that they were planning on
    having me “murdered.”  In fact, the plan was to strategize how to get me
    fired. The student told me that they discussed the option of meeting with
    a female administraror who worked at the time at the Middle East
    Institute, to coordinate the plan with her. He told me that he had
    informed the students and the medical school professor that even
    though he disagreed with me, that he thought I had the right to express
    my views.

      The female student who initiated the petition against me was not alone
    in class who consistently posed hostile questions. Three or four other
    students would do so intermittently. One of them insisted on reading out
    loud in class paragraphs from a propaganda book issued by a pro-Israel
    lobbying organization. The book is “Myths and Facts:  A Guide to the
    Arab-Israeli Conflict” written by one Mitchell Bard and published by the
    American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, which states on its website that
    “We are committed to arming students with the information they need to
    respond to the very difficult issues raised on the campus” through the
    publication of Bard’s book.6  Many students complained that these few
    students were disruptive of class, especially as there are discussion
    sections for them to raise their concerns. I allayed their anxiety by
    explaining that there is something to learn from some of the students’
    politically-motivated questions, namely that all students would learn the
    political arguments of proponents and opponents of certain scholarly
    analyses of the conflict, and that students who had political queries
    would also learn that there are indeed persuasive answers to the
    queries they raise from a critical and scholarly angle. For me, allowing
    these students to disrupt my lecture was of pedagogical benefit to them
    and to the rest of the class.

    During the same semester, in April 2002, I was attacked and misquoted
    by the Spectator after attending an on-campus rally in support of
    Palestinians under Israeli military attack in the West Bank and Gaza, and
    an op-ed piece and letters were published in the Spectator accusing me
    of “anti-Semitism” for a lecture I had given at the Middle East Institute in
    February 2002.7  The op-ed piece by a junior at Barnard named
    Daphna Berman, who was not my student, drew parallels between a
    swastika found in a law school bathroom and my lecture and rebuked
    the university for allowing me to speak out:

    “I was struck by the University's willingness to publicly condemn blatant
    expressions of anti-Semitism [such as the swastika incident] while
    simultaneously condoning, and even sponsoring, more tacit and subtle
    forms of that same evil. Massad's talk is lent a certain legitimacy by mere
    virtue of the fact that his views exist within an academic framework. The
    rhetoric is polished, the multisyllabic words characteristic of academia
    are pleasing to the ear, and so Massad's message somehow becomes
    more acceptable, more palatable. Yet fundamentally, the difference
    between Massad's message and its more blatant and visually tangible
    manifestation are only subtle.”8

    As for the political rally, which took place on Wednesday April 17, 2002, I
    was one of countless speakers. I spoke out and asserted the following:
    “"Like white South Africans who felt threatened under apartheid and who
    only felt safe when they gave up their commitment to white supremacy,
    Israeli Jews will continue to feel threatened if they persist in supporting
    Jewish supremacy. Israeli Jews will only feel safe in a democratic Israeli
    state where all Jews and Arabs are treated equally. No state has the
    right to be a racist state.” The Spectator misquoted me as saying that
    Israel is “a Jewish supremacist and racist state,” and that “every racist
    state should be threatened.”9 When I protested the misquotation, the
    Spectator journalist who wrote the story, Xan Nowakowski, apologized
    and informed me via E-mail that she did not even attend the rally and
    got the quotes from another reporter. She assured me that the
    newspaper would run a correction. After a back and forth for almost a
    week on E-mail, the Spectator ran the correction on April 24, 2002.

    However, two major pro-Israeli propagandists, namely Martin Kramer
    and Daniel Pipes, would insist on reproducing the misquote in articles
    that they wrote to newspapers and that they posted on their websites.
    On June 20, 2002, Martin Kramer, an Israeli academic who teaches at
    Tel Aviv university, posted an article on the Middle East Forum website
    titled “Arab Panic,” in which he attacked a number of Columbia
    professors, myself included. He argued that “Massad's views are not all
    that unusual in Middle Eastern studies, and he has every right to
    express them on Columbia's Low Plaza, in public lectures, and in print.
    But should someone who is busy propagandizing against the existence
    of Israel be employed by Columbia to teach the introductory course on
    the Arab-Israeli conflict?… Suffice it to say that this column has received
    a surfeit of student complaints about the course, suggesting that there is
    no difference between what Massad teaches and what he preaches.”  In
    his article, Kramer reproduced the misquote from the Spectator. Prior to
    Kramer’s column, a website for an organization called “The Columbia
    Conservative Alumni Association” listed me among the six "worst faculty"
    at Columbia, a list that also included Edward Said who was identified as
    a “homosexual” who supports Hamas.  Martin Kramer was only too
    happy to quote from that website in his article, as would other columnists
    writing for the New York Sun.  

    On June 25 2002, Daniel Pipes and one Jonathan Schanzer published
    an article in the New York Post titled “Extremists on Campus,” in which
    they listed me as one such  extremist and complained that I use my class
    as a “soapbox for anti-Israeli polemics.”  The Wall Street Journal
    published on September 18, 2002 an article about a pro-Israel website
    calling itself CampusWatch being launched by Daniel Pipes, stating that
    the website listed 8 professors (including me) with our own public
    dossiers as enemies of America and Israel and called on our students to
    monitor us in class.  Following the launch of CampusWatch, my E-mail
    was spammed for months with over 4000 E-mails daily, which I had to sift
    through until finally Columbia was able to install an anti-spamming
    program. Moreover, I was subjected to identity theft when thousands of
    racist E-mails would be sent in my name to individuals and listservs,
    including a few to the White House and Congressmen threatening them
    with terrorist action. Moreover, thousands of other E-mails would be sent
    to people with requests of notes of receipt being sent back to my E-mail
    account which clogged it further with thousands of such E-mail receipts.  
    I also received tens of racist E-mails and phone messages including
    death threats directed at me. In the meantime, Pipes’s website called on
    our own students to spy on us in the classroom and report to him, and
    Kramer called for my dismissal from Columbia University.10  In interviews
    that I gave to the press, I spoke about the misquotation which Pipes and
    Kramer continued to propagate, and about my experience in my Spring
    2002 class, with regards to the petition to get me fired and the secret
    meeting at the Medical school which my student had told me about.11

    As I was on sabbatical in London that year, I was relatively shielded
    from the campaign, even though my E-mail account continued to be
    disrupted. I did come to Columbia to deliver a lecture on Palestinian
    cinema in January 2003. My lecture, titled “The Weapon of Culture,”
    discussed how Palestinian cinema was a weapon of resistance and an
    act of culture in reference to Amilcar Cabral’s famous essay “the
    Weapon of Theory.”  Kramer immediately attacked my paper based on
    reports in the press.12

    In late January 2003, I began to write a column to the Egyptian Weekly
    Al-Ahram which deals mostly with Palestinian-Israeli affairs and with the
    Arab World more generally. Every time I published an article, Kramer
    and Pipes would write about it, as would new student recruits that they
    had on campuses. One such ideological recruit was a first year student
    in General Studies whom I had never met called Ariel Beery. Beery
    would become one of the main people defending the claims of the David
    Project in whose film he appeared and called me “one of the most
    dangerous intellectuals… on campus.” Beery has never taken a class
    with me and never met me. Beery, who claims to have served in the
    Israeli army in Lebanon, had his own Spectator column and a personal
    blog. Beery arrived on the Columbia campus when I was on sabbatical,
    yet, surprisingly, he chose to write about me in his column. After
    criticizing my Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Societies course, which
    he never took, Beery asserted:
    One would think that we need a teacher in the classroom, not a
    critic…The problem lies not in what Massad believes, but in his openly
    biased presentation in the classroom. The statements he issues are
    anywhere from questionable to fundamentally wrong.

    Basing his arguments on of one my newspaper columns, Beery added
    the following:

    “If anything, Massad's claim [in his column] that there is no anti-Semitism
    in the Arab world should disqualify him from setting foot in a Columbia
    University classroom as a professor of Modern Arab Politics. Just as you
    would not trust a surgeon with shaky knowledge of the human anatomy,
    Columbia should not trust the minds of its charges to a professor with a
    limited knowledge of the body politic of the region he supposedly is an
    expert in. [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.”13

    In a second column, Beery again railed against me and lamented that

    “Our educations are bound in intellectual Egypt, enslaved by the post-
    colonialist slant that has permeated our social sciences, while our
    institution is trapped by its old-fashioned bylaws into protecting the
    employment of those who espouse hateful and violent rhetoric… Will
    President Bollinger and future Provost Alan Brinkley be our gate and our
    key to a new and better University? Only time will tell. Let's just hope that
    our time in the wilderness will be short and that next year we will enjoy a
    rebuilt Columbia.”14

    This is in addition to myriad log entries on me on his website.

      In April 2003, I decided to respond to Kramer and Pipes in an article
    titled “Policing the Academy,” in which I fleshed out their agenda and
    their plans. I concluded by stating that

    “Kramer, Pipes, and co. are angry that the academy still allows
    democratic procedure in the expression of political views and has an
    institutionalised meritocratic system of judgment…to evaluate its
    members. Their goal is to destroy any semblance of either in favour of
    subjecting democracy and academic life to an incendiary jingoism and to
    the exigencies of the national security state with the express aim of
    imploding freedom. Their larger success, however, has been in
    discrediting themselves and in reminding all of us that we should never
    take the freedoms that we have for granted, as the likes of Kramer and
    Pipes are working to take them away.”15

    I attach the text of my article at the end of this statement.

      Upon returning to Columbia in the Fall of 2003, I was scheduled to
    give a lecture on the 2nd of October at the Society of Fellows at the
    Heyman Center. The lecture was attended by a large number of people
    including many faculty members, Professor Nicholas Dirks, who had not
    yet become vice-president, was among them. After the lecture I was
    asked a number of hostile questions from young students and from one
    Rabbi Charles Sheer, about whom I had heard the previous year when
    he railed against MEALAC professors in the context of the pro-
    Palestinian rally that took place on campus in April 2002. I had never
    met him before. I answered all the questions put before me. Several
    professors came to me afterwards, including Brinkley Messick of the
    Department of Anthropology and my departmental colleague Janaki
    Bakhle, among others, wondering how I managed to remain calm in the
    face of rude and hostile questions of the caliber I had been asked.
    Rabbi Sheer’s secretary called me and left a message asking for the text
    of the lecture. I never responded. The lecture has been published in the
    scholarly journal Cultural Critique and has recently been the topic of a
    newspaper article in the New York Sun, and I believe also in the Daily
    News.16  On 6 January 2004, Rabbi Sheer posted a letter on the Hillel
    website addressed to Columbia and Barnard students, in which he
    discussed my lecture and made a startling announcement. In his letter,
    Sheer shared an article he had written called “The Treatment of the
    Middle East Studies at Columbia University.”17 Sheer declared that “the
    principal anti-Israel voices [on Columbia’s campus] are not pro-
    Palestinian student leaders and groups, but Columbia faculty and
    academic departments.” He added that “On the one hand, there are
    many fine courses taught by CU faculty on Hebrew language and
    literature, the history of Israel and Zionism, Arab culture, languages and
    nationalism, etc. These courses, offered in various departments, are
    taught with the usual CU standard of careful scholarship and
    balance…On the other hand, some faculty members whose teaching
    style is called ‘advocacy education’ espouse a consistent anti-Israel and
    pro-Palestinian bias. Their personal politics pervade the classroom and
    academic forums. The record is public: search under ‘Columbia
    University’ at websites such as and www. Be prepared; it is not a pleasant read.”18

      Sheer proceeded to mention that he had attended my lecture at the
    Heyman Center and then summarized it by making outrageous claims
    that were never made in the lecture:

    “Professor Massad has reversed the roles of all the players and
    redefined many of the historic events: the Zionists are the new Nazis; the
    Palestinians are oppressed victims and therefore the new Jews... From a
    distance, this diatribe may sound ludicrous. However, its impact on
    campus is serious. MEALAC should enable our students to explore
    issues vital to their understanding of the modern Middle East in a
    balanced way…”

    We will see how the false claim attributed to me by Rabbi Sheer that I
    said that “the Zionists are the new Nazis,” a claim I never made, would
    find its way to Ariel Beery who would make the same claim in the video
    “Columbia Unbecoming,”19 as would Noah Liben in his description of my
    course --a false claim that would be repeated ad absurdum in the media.
    Sheer concluded with two interesting claims, one which effectively called
    on students not to take my class, and another announcing the filming of
    Columbia Unbecoming:

    “Of course, academic freedom is a cornerstone of our University.
    However, students are understandably reluctant to take courses from
    faculty who impose their biases in their teaching. A student group is
    currently working on a video that records how intimidated students feel
    by advocacy teaching, and how some are discouraged from taking
    MEALAC courses or majoring in Middle East studies.”

    Sheer further called on Columbia University to “share my passion for
    unbiased scholarship and the establishment of a proper learning
    environment so our students – Jews and non-Jews - can learn about
    complex issues with honesty and integrity.” 20

      Suffice it to say that my class had over fifty students for the Spring
    2004 and students did not heed the call made by Sheer. The class did
    however include a number of auditors (I found out they were
    unregistered during the last week of class) who would consistently
    harass me with hostile ideological questions that ignored all the
    readings. Students complained about the disruption this caused the
    class. I tried to emphasize to the auditors that their questions must be
    relevant to the subject at hand and that they must do the readings. They
    never did and I continued to answer their questions until the end of the
    semester to avoid creating a tense atmosphere in the classroom.

      During this period, the New York Sun and Kramer and Pipes continued
    to attack me in their columns and on their websites. In an article on
    December 30, 2003, the Sun had again attacked one of my newspaper
    columns misquoting me.  In my column, I stated that "While Israel has no
    legitimacy and is not recognized by any international body as a
    ‘representative’ of the Jewish people worldwide but rather as the state of
    the Israeli people who are citizens of it...," the Sun quoted me as saying
    that “Israel has no legitimacy.” I asked for a correction from the reporter
    Jacob Gershman. He agreed and the newspaper ran it the next day.21
    This however was just a brief lull. On May 4, 2004, the Sun ran another
    article about me by one Jonathan Calt Harris, identified as an associate
    of Daniel Pipes at Campus Watch, titled “Tenured Extremism.” After a
    litany of misquotes, half quotes, and outright fabrications, Calt Harris,
    who referred to my views as akin to those of “Nazis,” concluded by
    stating: “Mr. Massad is soon up for tenure review. Should this once
    distinguished university stoop to provide a permanent forum for his
    views, it would signify a truly stunning oversight…He knows no
    distinction between a classroom lecture and advocacy at a public

      Based on this repeated call to deny me tenure at Columbia, which had
    already been expressed by Martin Kramer, I set up an appointment with
    Provost Brinkley and met with him. I sought his help and the help of the
    university’s legal services to fight this defamation of character. The
    latest article in the New York Sun included such blatant and insidious
    misrepresentations that I seriously considered suing them for
    defamation. I provided copies of my written work for the Provost and told
    him of the campaigns to which I had been subjected in the previous
    years. While the provost seemed mildly supportive, he did not think that
    suing would be practical. I asked him if he could arrange for me to meet
    with legal services to which he reluctantly agreed. I had to remind him by
    E-mail to set up a meeting for me. After he put me in touch with legal
    services, my E-mails to them went unanswered.  I asked the provost to
    intervene which he did. His intervention produced a response from their
    office asking me about my available times to set up an appointment. I
    sent it to them and never heard back. I dropped the matter after I left in
    mid summer for vacation abroad.

      In the meantime however, I received a letter from  Joel J. Levy, director
    of the
    New York chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, copies of which had
    been sent to President Bollinger and Provost Brinkley.  The letter was
    significantly dated on May 6, 2004, two days after Calt Harris published
    his article in the Sun. The letter complained to me that, according to one
    report it received from one student who attended a lecture that I had
    given at the University of Pennsylvania on March 24, 2004 (which
    incidentally was the same lecture I gave at Columbia’s Society of Fellows
    the previous October), ideas expressed in my lecture are  “anti-Semitic.”
    The letter made false claims about what my lecture said and asked that I
    retract them and issue an apology for my allegedly anti-Semitic remarks.
    I wrote Mr. Levy back and copied President Bollinger and Provost
    Brinkley. I stated in my letter that:

    “My principled stance against anti-Semitism and all kinds of racism is a
    matter of public record and cannot be assailed by defamatory ‘reports’
    or by letters from the ADL that consider them credible sources.  Indeed I
    have condemned anti-Semitism in my Arabic and English writings,
    regardless of whether the person expressing it was pro-Israel or anti-
    Israel, an Arab, an American Christian, or an Israeli Jew… I therefore
    expect a prompt correction of the errors contained in your letter and
    demand an immediate apology, a copy of which should be sent to
    President Bollinger.”23

    I never heard back from the ADL, or from the provost.

      It was with this as background that news about the David Project film
    “Columbia Unbecoming,” surfaced on October 20, 2004 in a New York
    Sun article.24

    The Aftermath of Columbia Unbecoming

      I was horrified by the media campaign against me and the calls for my
    dismissal from Columbia that were issued by Congressman Weiner and
    by the editors of the Daily News and the New York Sun, as well as calls
    by Jewish members of the New York City Council to investigate the
    matter.  These calls were issued as declarations about the controversy
    by the national head of the ADL and Mayor Bloomberg were also made
    to the press and the film was suddenly being shown in Israel before a
    government minister at an anti-Semitism conference. I had requested a
    meeting with Provost Brinkley who did not contact me once during the
    early days of the controversy during which President Bollinger was
    making all kinds of statements to the press. My request to meet with the
    Provost was made through the chair of my department, Marc van de
    Mieroop, who attended our meeting in the Provost’s office on the 27th of
    October. I inquired of the provost as to why he would sit down secretly to
    watch a propaganda film produced by a lobbying group and why he
    would remain silent about it after he had seen it. The provost apologized
    and admitted that these were mistakes but that now we needed to
    contain the problem. He assured me that he had received countless
    letters in my support and few against me. When I spoke with Vice-
    President Dirks later, he also informed me that he had received
    “hundreds” of letters in my support and “three or four” against me. I trust
    that the President, the Provost, and the Vice-President, have shared
    with you these letters. While the provost and I corresponded briefly on E-
    mail, mainly about my concerns regarding statements made by
    President Bollinger, which the Provost would challenge and represent as
    the media’s inaccurate rendering, soon there would be no further
    communication with him. President Bollinger to this day has not
    contacted me.

    The Columbia Spectator ran an editorial asking me to respond to the
    allegations. They wrote me and called me asking that I issue a
    statement. I agreed with their editorial page editor, Rachael
    Scarborough King, on the number of words and sent it to them. They
    refused to publish it unless I cut it to 1600 words, 400 words below what
    they had agreed to.  I cut down my statement and resent it. They still
    refused to publish it. The editorial page editor, Ms. King sent me an
    apology about her sense of shame that the editor in chief “overruled”
    her and refused to run it. I have kept our E-mail correspondence. I opted
    to post my response to the allegations on my Columbia Webpage on
    November 3, 2005, against the advice of the Provost, who counseled
    that my silence was of more benefit to me. The Spectator would later
    publish Charles Jacobs, the director of the David Project’s response to
    my statement.25

      Let me begin by responding to the claims put forward in “Columbia
    Unbecoming,” both based on press reports and on the recent transcript
    of the film made available on the web. I still have not seen the film.  Let
    me reiterate what I said in my statement regarding the claims put by the
    students in the film:

    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.  As for Noah
    Liben, who appears in the film according to newspaper accounts (I have
    not seen the film), he was indeed a student in my Palestinian and Israeli
    Politics and Societies course in the spring of 2001. Noah seems to have
    forgotten the incident he cites.  During a lecture about Israeli state
    racism against Asian and African Jews, Noah defended these practices
    on the basis that Asian and African Jews were underdeveloped and
    lacked Jewish culture, which the Ashkenazi State operatives were
    teaching them. When I explained to him that, as the assigned readings
    clarified, these were racist policies, he insisted that these Jews needed
    to be modernized and the Ashkenazim were helping them by civilizing
    them. Many students gasped. He asked me if I understood his point. I
    informed him that I did not. Noah seems not to have done his reading
    during the week on gender and Zionism. One of the assigned readings
    by Israeli scholar and feminist Simona Sharoni spoke of how in Hebrew
    the word “zayin” means both penis and weapon in a discussion of Israeli
    militarized masculinity.  Noah, seemingly not having read the assigned
    material, mistook the pronunciation of “zayin” as “Zion,” pronounced in
    Hebrew “tziyon.”  As for his spurious claim that I said that “Jews in Nazi
    Germany were not physically abused or harassed until Kristallnacht in
    November 1938,” Noah must not have been listening carefully. During
    the discussion of Nazi Germany, we addressed the racist ideology of
    Nazism, the Nuremberg Laws enacted in 1934, and the institutionalized
    racism and violence against all facets of Jewish life, all of which
    preceded the extermination of European Jews. This information was also
    available to Noah in his readings, had he chosen to consult them.
    Moreover, the lie that the film propagates claiming that I would equate
    Israel with Nazi Germany is abhorrent. I have never made such a
    reprehensible equation.

      I remember having a friendly rapport with Noah (as I do with all my
    students). He would drop off newspaper articles in my mailbox, come to
    my office hours, and greet me on the street often. He never informed me
    or acted in a way that showed intimidation. Indeed, he would write me E-
    mails, even after he stopped being my student, to argue with me about
    Israel. I have kept our correspondence. On March 10, 2002, a year after
    he took a class with me, Noah wrote me an E-mail chastising me for
    having invited an Israeli speaker to class the year before when he was in
    attendance. It turned out that Noah’s memory failed him again, as he
    mistook the speaker I had invited for another Israeli scholar. After a long
    diatribe, Noah excoriated me: “How can you bring such a phony to speak
    to your class??” I am not sure if his misplaced reproach was indicative of
    an intimidated student or one who felt comfortable enough to rebuke his

    As for the claim made by Ariel Beery, whom I have never met and who
    has never been my student, that my “favorite description is the
    Palestinian as the new Jew and the Jew as the new Nazi.” Such a
    statement is an outright lie. Beery gets this quote not from anything I
    said or wrote, but from the fabrication made up by Rabbi Sheer on his
    Hillel web posting of January 4th 2004. As for the claims made by Deena
    Shanker, whose story suddenly appeared in a report in the New York
    Sun after my posted statement dismantled the false claims made by
    Liben and Schoenfeld, her claims are also outright lies.27 In her New
    York Sun account, Ms. Shanker stated that she asked me
    “if it is true that Israel gives prior warning before launching strikes in
    Palestinian Arab territories”…That provoked him to start screaming, “If
    you're going to deny the atrocities being committed against the
    Palestinians then you could leave the class,” Ms. Shanker said…She
    said she was “shocked” by his reaction, and that Mr. Massad “usually
    answered civilly along the lines of, “No, you're wrong.” She said Mr.
    Massad compared Israelis to Nazis during lectures in class.

    Shanker later told the New York Times a different story: “She said that
    Professor Massad sometimes ridiculed her questions and during one
    class exchange yelled at her to get out. (She stayed.) ‘People in the
    class were like blown away,’ she said.”28 Her account to the Jerusalem
    Post was also inconsistent with the other two accounts:

    ‘If you're going to deny the atrocities being committed against the
    Palestinian people then you can get out of my classroom!’ Massad
    shouted, according to Shanker's account…Shanker was shocked…
    ‘Sometimes teachers and professors yell at students - it happens - but
    this was not like anything I've ever experienced. He was not treating me
    like a student,’ she said… Shanker said she had grown accustomed to
    Massad's antagonism toward Israel, but the professor's rage at her for
    speaking up was frightening… ‘I felt - I wouldn't say 'intimidated' was the
    right word - I would say: humiliated, violated, scared. This was very overt
    and explicit.’29

    Deena Shanker is lying in all three versions of her story. I have never
    asked her or any student to leave my class no matter what question they
    asked. In fact, I never asked any of my students to leave class for any
    reason. I have no visual memory of Deena Shanker who never came to
    office hours or spoke with me after class. The incident she describes
    has never taken place.

      In the aftermath of the film, I have received, and still receive, a barrage
    of hate mail and racist E-Emails and voicemail messages. The first such
    E-mail message was from a medical school professor called Moshe
    Rubin. Professor Rubin wrote me on October 20th, the same day as the
    first report was published in the Sun. Under the subject heading “Anti-
    Semite” he wrote:

    “Go back to Arab land where Jew hating is condoned
    get the hell out of America
    you are a disgrace
    and a pathetic typical arab liar
    Moshe Rubin”

    Many more such E-mails would follow. The campaign would quickly
    expand and include medical school professor Judith Jacobson.  Such
    threatening E-mails have also targeted others in my department. A
    recent E-mail was sent last week to all the Jewish students and faculty at
    MEALAC from an Israeli group calling itself “United Trial Group --
    Peoples Rights International,” informing them that:

    “We advise you to immediately dismiss/kick ass of Joseph Goebbels, aa
    Joseph Massed based on the President Bush Bill against anti-Semitism
    and according with the US anti-terrorism law, proscribing Nazi
    propaganda and incitement to terror. If you and the administration
    won't immediately dismiss that fascist bastard, you and the
    administration will be personally liable and accountable for
    aiding, abetting and harboring this Muslim criminal, and subject to
    criminal prosecution and multimillion compensations in damages…
    You have 30 days to comply and inform us.”
    I should state that I have received immense support from across the
    world, through countless letters and thousands of signatures on an
    online petition. These include hundreds of individual letters from
    academics, students, and supporters, and tens of letters from my own
    students, especially my Jewish students. All these letters were sent to
    President Bollinger, Provost Brinkley, and Vice-President Dirks. Copies
    of many of these letters were sent to me.  In addition, a colleague at the
    University of Texas at Austin, Professor Neville Hoad, circulated a letter
    within a few days of the controversy and obtained 828 signatures of
    major scholars and academics around the United States and the world,
    which he also submitted to the President, the Provost, and the Vice-
    President.  Another academic colleague at the State University of
    California, As’ad AbuKhalil, set up an on-line petition, which obtained
    upwards of 3000 signatures, a copy of which was also sent to Bollinger.
    Hooligans attempted to undermine the petition by signing names like
    “Adolf Hitler” and ‘Osama Ben Laden,” but they were not able to shut the
    petition down. In addition, two letters were sent to the Prsident, the
    Provost, and the Vice-Presdient, one by 24 graduate students at
    MEALAC, and another by 52 graduate students from other departments
    at Columbia. The Middle East Studies Association’s Academic Freedom
    Committee also issued a letter defending my academic freedom, as did
    the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the New York
    chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American-
    Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Thirty professors from the American
    University in Cairo also sent a letter defending me. President Bollinger
    has as of yet not responded to any of these individuals or organizations
    with the notable exception of the ACLU. A response was also sent by the
    Provost to the AAUP.  In the meantime, my own senior colleague Dan
    Miron had joined the fray with claims to the New York Sun that students
    in the department had been complaining to him of class humiliation by
    professors every week for years.30

    President Bollinger’s Failure to Defend the Faculty

      The response of the Columbia University administration to the David
    Project was swift. As I will show below, in statement and action, Columbia’
    s President Bollinger has prejudged the accused faculty, and failed to
    defend us or the MEALAC department, and he refused to defend
    Columbia’s own record of pluralism and tolerance, the variety of courses
    the university offers on the Middle East, or Columbia’s established
    commitment to promote Jewish and Israel Studies. Instead President
    Bollinger and his administration, as the evidence I will present will show,
    gave legitimacy to the film “Columbia Unbecoming,” referred to its claims
    as facts, and promised an “investigation.” His subsequent statements
    and actions have emboldened those engaged in the campaign to
    intimidate me and would confirm to the public that the allegations against
    me are in fact true, at least, as far as he was concerned. Let me
    illustrate how this transpired.

      Columbia’s first response to the allegations contained in the film,
    “Columbia Unbecoming,” was a statement released by the President
    himself. This statement was released after Congressman Anthony
    Wiener called on Columbia to fire me in a letter to Bollinger, and after
    two newspapers (the New York Sun and the Daily News) added their
    voices to Wiener’s and asked that I be fired, and after a medical school
    faculty member, Moshe Rubin, sent me a racist E-mail which I had
    immediately forwarded to Provost Brinkley. In his statement, Bollinger
    referred to the “disturbing and offensive nature of incidents described in
    the film” without using the word “alleged” before incidents. This was
    certainly not an oversight, especially coming from a lawyer.  He further
    added that academic freedom “does not, for example, extend to
    protecting behavior in the classroom that threatens or intimidates
    students who express their viewpoints.” Bollinger failed to make any
    reference as to whether academic freedom extends to protecting
    students engaged in intimidating professors by raising a media
    campaign against them. Nor did the statement address whether the
    intimidation of the faculty and the Columbia administration by outside
    pressure groups, the press, and government officials would be tolerated.
    31  In his statement, instead, Bollinger announced that he had asked
    the Provost to “look into” the students’ claims, which in subsequent
    press reports quoting him, he referred to as an “investigation.” 32

    The next day, on October 28, Bollinger met with national director of the
    Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, an organization that had
    targeted me since May 6, 2004, when it sent a letter to me copied to
    Bollinger accusing me of anti-Semitism. According to press accounts,
    Bollinger sought to meet with Foxman and other leaders of Jewish
    organizations.  On November 11, after delivering a lecture at the
    University Club on Fifth Avenue, Mr. Bollinger was asked about the
    student accusations against Columbia faculty members, “according to
    an audience member who did not wish to disclose his identity… Mr.
    Bollinger… said he was committed to academic freedom but wouldn't
    condone "stupid" behavior by faculty members.” 33  Such a biased and
    disrespectful choice of words would continue in Bollinger’s press
    declarations. In response to allegations by students repeated to him by
    a reporter from New York Magazine that “On day one, students say,
    [Massad] tells his class they shouldn't expect "balance." There's even a
    disclaimer in his syllabus.” Bollinger responded:

    “I believe a disclaimer before starting your course is insufficient…It
    doesn't inoculate you from criticism for being one-sided or intolerant in
    the classroom…That's not to prejudge any claims here. But if you're
    asking, in the abstract, ‘Can a faculty member satisfy the ideal of good
    teaching by simply saying at the beginning, I'm going to teach one side
    of a controversy and I don't want to hear any other side and if you don't
    like this, please don't take my course,' my view is, that's irresponsible

    Bollinger never contacted me to check whether this is true and has not
    seen copies of my syllabi. While he claimed that he was answering a
    hypothetical question to New York Magazine, he would soon be so
    emboldened by the very repetition of the claims against me that he
    would abandon the necessity he initially saw for the hypothetical caveat.
    This is how the reporter of the Jewish Week put it:

    “Bollinger is careful not to name names, but he makes clear he is at
    odds with some professors in the [MEALAC] department, whether or not
    they are guilty of the allegations against them…"Just as I can't go in to
    my First Amendment class and say you know, I happen to think that
    censorship is a very good idea, and if you want to take a course on
    freedom of speech that emphasizes, you know, against censorship, God
    bless you, and go do that,” he said.”35

    Indeed, Bollinger now speaks of these allegations as outright facts.
    Witness what he told students over dinner a few days ago as reported
    by the Columbia Spectator: “‘I’m not going to talk about whether the
    accusations are true or not. Let's just assume they’re true,’ Bollinger
    said.” 36 The Spectator reporter adds the following:

    “The second claim made by the film, according to Bollinger, was that
    some professors did not permit students to voice their own opinions
    about matters of discussion in the classroom. He identified this action as
    a clear violation of academic freedom…The third claim was that some
    MEALAC courses are blatantly biased, presenting only one side of the
    spectrum of opinions on contentious subjects. Bollinger said that the
    warnings professors gave ahead of time about the one-sidedness of
    their courses were ‘unacceptable.’”37

    Note that the situation was no longer hypothetical. I should emphasize
    here that not only did Bollinger or Provost Brinkley never contact me
    about my course, neither of them responded to my announcement that I
    had cancelled it, which I made in my publicized statement in response to
    the intimidation to which I was being subjected. I had indeed sent a copy
    of my statement to Provost Brinkley before posting it. He wrote me back
    counseling me not to release it. However neither he nor Bollinger, nor
    even Vice President Dirks, expressed any discomfort that I, a Columbia
    faculty member, was canceling one of my courses because of
    intimidation. None of them informed me that I would be protected by the
    university were I to teach it again and that the university would ensure
    my rights and protect me against intimidation. Indeed, what I was
    subjected to is not more protection by my own university but more
    intimidation. The most concrete manifestation of which was the formation
    of your committee.

      On the issue of the formation of your ad-hoc committee, the first point I
    want to refer to is the establishment of the committee and then move to
    its mandate. The step taken by the administration to establish a
    committee to investigate professors based on student grievances that
    were not lodged with any university body but rather aired through an off-
    campus lobbying group sets a dangerous precedent of violating the
    academic freedom of professors. The establishment of the committee
    coupled with the statements by Bollinger to the press have given the
    clear impression that the David Project had legitimate issues to raise
    with Columbia, and that even though Bollinger himself had assured
    everyone that there were no registered complaints against any of the
    accused professors through any Columbia channel, and that he had
    already convened a secret committee to investigate similar allegations
    the previous semester, the so-called Blasi committee, which found no
    evidence of bias, he still saw a need for a second special committee to
    become the address of such complaints.

      The matter of the committee charge is of grave importance. I
    requested and had a meeting with Vice President Dirks in his office on
    December 9 to discuss this particular matter. I told him then that I would
    not consider the ad-hoc committee a legitimate body unless it included
    in its charge the investigation of claims of intimidation of faculty by
    students, by administrators, and by off campus pressure groups. He
    responded positively to my concerns by asking me for my telephone
    number in Amman, Jordan, as I was traveling the next day on December
    10th. He said that I needed to be next to a phone and fax in the next day
    or two so that he could call me and fax me a draft of the charge to
    approve so that he could release it then to the public. I was satisfied with
    this arrangement. Vice President Dirks however never contacted me. I E-
    mailed him on December 14 to inquire about the charge. He wrote back
    on December 19th informing me that he had not “yet been able to come
    up with a statement about the committee. I'll send you something as
    soon as it is ready.” I never heard back from him. Upon returning to
    Columbia in mid-January, my students forwarded to me a mass E-mail
    that Vice-President Dirks had sent out inviting students to appear before
    the committee. I was taken aback by such a step, as I still did not know
    what the committee’s charge was. I wrote to the vice-president to inquire
    on January 20 as to what had transpired. He wrote me back clarifying
    that he had not promised to share with me the circular he had sent out
    to the students. As for the charge, he explained that he still had not
    finalized it and would do so in a couple of days. I heard again from him a
    week later asking me to pick up a copy of the charge from his office. I
    did and was shocked to find that it did not include the investigation of
    faculty intimidation by students and administrators. I never heard back
    from Vice-President Dirks who never offered an explanation or an
    apology for his disrespectful conduct, having failed to inform me of the
    change of plans and then offering me the charge as a fait accompli.

      I am very concerned about the choice of Floyd Abrams as your
    advisor, a position whose mandate has not been made public. Mr.
    Abrams is publicly identified with pro-Israeli politics and activism. He has
    spoken at fund raisers for causes in Israel,38 has worked and consulted
    with the Anti-Defamation League, one of the parties campaigning
    against me, and received a major award from it in 2003, the Hubert H.
    Humphrey Award, and has endorsed the book The Case for Israel by
    Alan Dershowitz who has been speaking publicly in lectures and to the
    media against me, in the context of the ongoing witch-hunt, alleging that
    I support terrorism. In his blurb endorsing Dershowitz’s book, Abrams

    “In a world in which Israel seems always to be the accused, regardless of
    the facts, Alan Dershowitz's defense offers an oasis of sanity and
    straight talk. It may be too much to hope that Israel's accusers will read
    this powerful and persuasive response to their charges. It is not at all
    too much to ask that fair--minded observers do so.”39

    Given these statements by Abrams, the decision to appoint him as
    advisor to this committee conveys at the least the appearance of

    On the question of my scholarship and my integrity as a teacher,
    Bollinger’s statements sadly suggest that he has taken sides against the
    faculty and the university in this controversy. Compare his recent
    declarations with those of Martin Kramer, one of the main people behind
    this witch-hunt. Kramer wrote on November 5, 2002 in a web posting:

    “The other issue of overriding concern here is the apparent absence of
    any effort by the Columbia administration to promote diversity. Here I
    don't mean the false diversity of academic mafias. They think it's crucial
    to assemble people of different ethnic, national, religious, racial, gender,
    and disciplinary backgrounds—provided they say the same thing. I’m
    talking about intellectual diversity, which used to be a value at Columbia.
    The only historian of the modern Middle East at Columbia [besides the
    possible employment of Rashid Khalidi] is another Palestinian, Joseph
    Massad, who is a militant follower of Edward Said. (He's now up for
    tenure.) Imagine that Khalidi were added, and Massad were tenured,
    both to teach history. They work in the same area, and their politics,
    while not identical, are very similar. The whole thing begins to look like a
    cozy club of like-minded pals, who peer at the Middle East through
    exactly the same telescope, from exactly the same vantage point.”40

    Compare Kramer’s statement with Bollinger’s. After reviewing Kramer’s
    views and those of others on the alleged lack of intellectual diversity at
    Columbia and in Middle East Studies more generally, and after citing
    Bollinger’s own record on “racial diversity” at the University of Michigan,  
    New York Magazine’s reports that: “today, [Bollinger] says he's equally
    committed to intellectual diversity.”41 This led the reporter to conclude
    that this “may not augur well for professor Massad's longevity at
    Columbia, no matter how favorably disposed the provost's committee
    may be to him.”42  Bollinger would elaborate on that point later to the
    Jewish Week, where according to the newspaper, “Bollinger
    acknowledged, albeit elliptically, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not
    being taught in a balanced way that reflects the complexity of the region.
    He believes that ‘the historic, horrific treatment of Jews, especially in the
    20th century, is not something to be taken as a matter of the past, and
    while I may not share all the policy judgments of the Israeli government, I
    believe the conflict cannot in any way be fairly regarded as lying at the
    feet of choices that Israel has made.’” 43 Instead Bollinger  recommends
    that MEALAC be “expanded” and that it continue to teach the
    Palestinian Israeli conflict but not as it has done so far:

    “I happen to think that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of central
    importance in the modern world," he said, "and we want to be able to
    think about that in its full complexities. That's going to mean that there
    will be thoughts some people will find difficult, or even offensive, and yet
    we must be able to explore given our belief in academic freedom.
    However, it is our obligation to do that with full respect to the complexity,
    and if we don't do that, we have failed ourselves, we have failed our own

    The implication being that those of us, and the reference is clearly to
    me, who teach the Palestinian Israeli conflict at MEALAC do not teach it
    with its “full complexity” or that I do not “respect” such complexity.  
    Perhaps I need to state to the committee that I derive my authority as a
    scholar of the Middle East from my doctoral training here at Columbia’s
    Political Science Department which granted me my PhD with distinction,
    a rare honor that was further certified by the Middle East Studies
    Association which granted me its most prestigious award for a social
    science dissertation for 1998, the Malcolm Kerr Award. My book, which
    was based on my dissertation, was published by Columbia University
    Press, and has been endorsed and reviewed favorably by the most
    prominent Middle East scholars in the academy. The only unfavorable
    review, out of seventeen favorable reviews, it received was in Martin
    Kramer’s unscholarly magazine, Middle East Quarterly. My book and my
    articles on the Palestinian Israeli conflict are used as standard texts for
    courses on nationalism and on Palestine and Israel across the United
    States and Europe. My recent work on sexuality and queer theory is also
    taught across the country, and a book length study on the subject is
    forthcoming from Harvard University Press.  I currently have two
    standing offers from prestigious presses for a book based on my
    published essays on Zionism and Palestinian nationalism. An attack on
    my scholarship therefore is not only an attack on me and on MEALAC
    but on Columbia’s political science department, on prestigious academic
    presses, including Columbia University Press, and on the Middle East
    Studies Association (MESA), an opinion expressed by Martin Kramer
    who also condemns Middle East Studies at Columbia and MESA itself. I
    should affirm here that President Bollinger is under the impression that
    he can set the research agenda for Middle East scholarship at Columbia
    much better than Columbia’s Middle East faculty. He told the Jewish
    Week that “we need to integrate better than we have other fields that
    have knowledge relevant to the work being done in MEALAC. What is
    the relationship, for example, between the environmental facts of life in
    the Middle East and Asia, or its diseases, and the culture there?” 45
    This retreat to 19th century climatology and medical anthropology is
    disturbing. Would President Bollinger also think that there is a
    relationship between “environmental facts, its diseases and the culture”
    of African Americans or of American Jews?

    I am concerned that Bollinger may well be making an academic
    judgment about me that is based not on my scholarship or pedagogy but
    on my politics and even my nationality. A case in point is Bollinger’s
    recent response to a letter sent by one James Schreiber, a member of
    Columbia Law School's board of visitors and former federal prosecutor,
    who says that a lecture that I gave and which he attended at Columbia’s
    Middle East Institute three years ago was comparable to a speech at a
    “neo-Nazi rally.” Bollinger met with Schreiber privately at his home and
    reportedly told him that he found his letter to be “powerful” and that he
    seeks to  “upgrade” the faculty in the Middle East studies department.46
    In addition,  when a number of faculty members and I signed a petition in
    2002 calling on Columbia to divest from companies that sell weapons to
    Israel, a country guilty of human rights abuses, Bollinger’s response
    betrayed a strong emotional reaction and a stronger political bias:

    “The petition alleges human rights abuses and compares Israel to South
    Africa at the time of apartheid, an analogy I believe is both grotesque
    and offensive.”47

    While the campaigners against me off this campus do not have the
    direct power to influence my future employment at Columbia, Bollinger
    clearly does, and therefore his failure to defend academic freedom is
    detrimental to my career and my job. I am further chilled in this regard by
    reports that at the recent general meeting of the Faculty of Arts and
    Sciences, Bollinger sought to change the fifty-year tradition regarding
    how tenure cases are decided at Columbia when he stated that he and
    the trustees, in accordance with the statutes but in contravention of a
    fifty-year tradition, would want to have the final say in tenure cases in
    the future.48

         In conclusion, the foregoing has given you the minimum of details
    and historical narrative regarding this coordinated campaign from inside
    and outside the university targeting me, my job, and my chances for
    tenure, based on my political views, my political writings, and my
    nationality. That the Columbia University administration acted as a
    collaborator with the witch-hunters instead of defending me and offering
    itself as a refuge from rightwing McCarthyism has been a cause of grave
    personal and professional disappointment to me.  I am utterly
    disillusioned with a university administration that treats its faculty with
    such contempt and am hoping against hope that the faculty will rise to
    the task before them and force President Bollinger to reverse this
    perilous course on which he has taken Columbia’s  faculty and students.
    The major goal of the witch-hunters is to destroy the institution of the
    university in general. I am merely the entry point for their political
    project. As the university is the last bastion of free-thinking that has not
    yet fallen under the authority of extreme rightwing forces, it has become
    their main target. The challenge before us is therefore to be steadfast in
    fighting for academic freedom.


    “Policing the Academy”
    Published in Al-Ahram Weekly, No. 633, 10-16 April 2003

    Joseph Massad* on the McCarthyism stalking American campuses

    As I was reading one of the latest death threats I received via e-mail, I
    remembered the defamatory campaigns to which Edward Said has been
    subjected since the 1970s and which included the firebombing of his
    office in the 1980s. Since last summer, apologists for Israel's "right" to
    be a racist state (and to use whatever violence it can muster in defence
    of that "right") have begun a campaign of defamation against anyone in
    the US academy who dares to question any Israeli action or practice.
    This campaign is part of a larger effort to discredit US universities as
    arenas for independent scholarship and thought. It also aims to
    delegitimise universities who refuse to serve the interests of either the
    national security state or the Israeli government. The fact that those
    spearheading this campaign are almost exclusively part of a large
    conglomerate known as the pro-Israel lobby in the US is hardly
    surprising. Since 11 September, the campaign has expanded to include
    any academic who believes that Islam is not a terroristic evil religion bent
    on murdering the "civilised", and that Muslims and Arabs are humans
    who are entitled to civil, political, and human rights in their own countries
    as well as in the United States.

    While academics live in a world where intellectual disagreements are
    registered through scholarly debates and discussions, and where
    methodological disputes are negotiated on the pages of academic
    journals and books and in the context of conferences, the new self-
    designated academic policemen refuse to acknowledge such modes of
    argumentation and fora as appropriate. In their fantasy world, the
    offending academics must be silenced, dismissed from their jobs, and
    their offending publications heaped and burned in an auto-da-fé. The
    strategy of the thought policemen consists of a refusal to address any of
    the offending contentions made by scholars and instead relies on the
    use of policing methods of discrediting, intimidation, and character
    assassination often used in societies run by the secret police. The
    overall purpose of this policing agenda is the destruction of academic
    freedom and the subversion of democratic procedure.

    Take the examples of two of the better known academic policemen in
    recent years, the American Daniel Pipes and the Israeli Martin Kramer,
    neither of whom teaches in the US academy; as a result, some might say
    that they have an ax to grind with a system that refuses to recognise
    their talents, especially in the field of policing and propaganda. Pipes
    and Kramer are two of the most outspoken defenders of Israel's "right"
    to be a racist state. They are also keen to defend Israel's prerogative to
    kill and bomb anyone who stands in its way of protecting its right to
    discriminate on racial grounds. Their role in the debate is to extend
    Israeli violence to the US academic arena by bombarding all enemies of
    Israel with defamatory accusations. It is not Merkava tanks, Uzi
    submachine guns, or Apache helicopters that are used in this
    bombardment, but rather newspaper gossip columns and secret police-
    style dossiers to name the preferred methods; as for the e-mail
    spamming, identity theft, and the death threats to which the unrepentant
    have been subjected, one can be sure that Kramer and Pipes are
    unconnected to either of them. Admittedly, their campaigns, unlike the
    Israeli government's campaigns, have not yet eliminated anyone
    physically (although the death threats sent by others to many of us
    continue), but the main point is to eliminate us professionally, and,
    failing that, to terrorise us into silence. Like the Israeli strategy of
    indiscriminate violence and terror, these campaigns have failed to
    achieve their purpose, whether to stop the Palestinians from resisting
    Israel's illegal occupation and violence in the case of Israel, or to stop
    Israel's academic critics in the case of the academic policemen.

    This campaign of intimidation against academics has been well planned
    and conceived with one major goal in mind: defamation. This is
    undertaken by following a number of steps involving refusal to engage
    any of the ideas or propositions put forth by the targeted professors,
    much less to refute them, consistent use of innuendo, fabrication of
    claims based on half-quotes pulled out of context, recruitment of young
    and impressionable defenders of Israel's aforementioned "rights" on
    college campuses, use of the right-wing press to whip up hysteria about
    anti- Israel sentiment being allegedly rampant on US campuses, and
    calls for outright dismissal of professors found guilty of not upholding
    Israel's "right" to be a racist state. The less the US public believes in
    defending Israel's crimes, the more intense the campaign becomes.

    While the pro-Israel lobby's campaigns to discredit people who criticise
    Israel had decreased in relative terms after Oslo, they were revived after
    the failure of the Camp David talks and the eruption of the second
    Intifada. The lobby and its individual manifestations have become rabid
    in their campaigns of discrediting offenders to the point that they have
    become embarrassing to many Americans who support Israel.

    The campaign against university professors and instructors began in
    earnest in the Spring of 2002 and has not abated since. Columbia
    University, where I teach, is a major focus of the campaign, as it is seen
    by Kramer and Pipes as a major battleground for their cause. In addition
    to the unceasing campaigns against Edward Said, the campaign is now
    focussing on new professors, namely University of Chicago Professor
    Rashid Khalidi who will be joining Columbia University next fall, Professor
    Hamid Dabashi, the chairperson of the Department of Middle East and
    Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia, and myself. Other
    professors and academics targeted on other campuses include John
    Esposito, Juan Cole, Ali Mazrui, M Shahid Alam, and Snehal Shingavi,
    among others.

    The effort was inaugurated by a newspaper article published by Pipes
    (who has no academic post whatsoever) under the title "Extremists on
    Campus", and a book published by Kramer who is "senior researcher" at
    Tel Aviv University's aptly named "Moshe Dayan Centre". Kramer, the
    cleverer of the two, assailed American Middle East academics for their
    "failure" to explain the Middle East to the US public. What Kramer means
    is that unlike many of their Israeli Jewish counterparts, American
    academics have failed to explain to Americans that Muslims and Arabs
    are violent uncivilised creatures and that Israel has a right to be a racist
    state (although in fact many of them do exactly that). As Kramer works at
    the Moshe Dayan Centre, named after that luminary of Israeli military
    conquerors, one hopes in vain that some of Dayan's wisdom would have
    rubbed off on Kramer. Alas, if Dayan acknowledged in reference to
    Israel that "there is no single place in this country that did not have a
    former Arab population", Kramer in turn chases down any academic who
    would remind the world of such forgotten facts and demands that such
    an academic repent his sins. Dayan, ever the pragmatist, was never
    upset with legitimate Palestinian rage at Israel which he was determined
    to crush. He insisted to the likes of Kramer: "Let us not today fling
    accusations at the [Palestinian] murderers [of Jewish colonial settlers].
    Who are we that we should argue against their hatred? For eight years
    now they sit in their refugee camps in Gaza, and before their very eyes,
    we turn into our homestead the land and the villages in which they and
    their forefathers have lived."

    Pipes, on his part, set up McCarthyist public dossiers on the eight
    professors of choice on a Web site and called on our students to spy on
    us and report any anti-Israel statements that we might make in class.
    Tens of professors (among tens of thousands who work at US
    universities and colleges) rushed to defend the blacklisted professors by
    demanding that their names also be added to the blacklist. For Pipes
    and Kramer, this was indication enough of how anti-Israel US academic
    culture had become, never mind the tens of thousands of professors
    who fell silent and did not defend academic freedom or us. This skewed
    view is all the more telling in the case of the ebullient Kramer who
    dubbed Columbia University "Bir Zeit on the Hudson".

    Now, in the tradition of Zionist lobbyists, the issue is not to have an
    Israeli view balanced with a Palestinian view about the subject, but
    rather, failing the suppression of Palestinian views altogether, to insist
    on a second, a third, and a fourth Israeli view to "balance" the one
    Palestinian view. Take the campaign against a course that I teach at
    Columbia titled "Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Societies" as an
    example. This course has enraged Kramer and his ilk and is used as
    evidence that Columbia University is an anti-Israel university. The fact
    that there are many other courses at Columbia (in existence for years,
    long before my course was even conceived) covering topics on
    contemporary Israeli society and politics, on Zionism, on conflict
    resolution in the Middle East, on Israeli literature, as well as on the
    Palestinian-Israeli conflict itself, all taught from an Israel-friendly angle
    (and not always by full-time professors) is immaterial; it is this orphan
    course taught with a critical view of Israel (and of Palestinian
    nationalism) that is the problem and which must be balanced. The fact
    that Columbia University features an important centre for Israel and
    Jewish studies but no centre on Palestine and Arab studies let alone a
    centre on Arab studies more generally, is not taken to mean that
    Columbia is a place friendly to Israel, rather the opposite: the existence
    of one course that criticises Israel is sufficient to conclude that rampant
    anti-Israelism (often dubbed "anti-Semitism") has taken over the

    If this was not enough, Columbia's Bir Zeit status is augmented by the
    divestment campaign started last year by the Faculty Committee on
    Palestine (of which I am a member), which indicates further to Kramer
    that US academics are not upholding Israel's right to be a racist state.
    The fact that Columbia has a counter-divestment petition whose
    signatures outnumber the pro-divestment petition by a factor of 33 to
    one (among faculty the rate is four to one against divestment) does not
    allay his fears or those of his followers, nor the fact that Columbia
    University's new president has publicly denounced the divestment
    campaign as "grotesque". Any questioning of the policemen's cause
    unto itself is seen as a thought crime, even a mortal sin against the
    sacrosanct cause of Israel. If anyone were to use these facts to label
    Columbia "Hebrew University on the Hudson", this would be seen
    legitimately as anti-Semitic. However, Kramer and his followers are never
    brought to task for their virulent anti- Arab racism.

    What Kramer, Pipes, and their ilk want to achieve is a subversion of the
    democratic process as well as of the academic process. Their intent is to
    subvert the academy by deriding its independence and by attempting to
    make it subject to the national security state and the thought police. As
    far as the democratic process is concerned, their goals are to suppress
    dissenting views by defaming them and calling for people to be
    dismissed from their jobs if they expressed them. Kramer has called for
    the dismissal of Dabashi, myself, and others and began an unsuccessful
    campaign to pressure Columbia University to withdraw its offer to Khalidi.
    Notice that the academic qualifications of the targeted professors based
    on our recognised publications and academic records are negated a
    priori by Kramer who questions the very legitimacy of the institutions that
    have granted them to us, whether Middle East Studies as a field, the
    Middle East Studies Association, the university presses that publish us,
    or the universities that employ us (he lamentingly calls me "the flower of
    Columbia University"). In Kramer's and Pipes' fantasy world, the only
    recognition that academics should seek in order to qualify to teach and
    publish on the Middle East is that of Israel's academic police in the
    United States. As a gesture of good will, such academics should
    perhaps attempt to publish in Kramer's and Pipes' journal Middle East
    Quarterly, which is indeed impressive for the absence of scholarship in
    it. Maybe one day Kramer and Pipes would demand of the academy that
    publishing in Middle East Quarterly become a condition for any
    academic to obtain tenure or promotion!

    Kramer and his young dupes have huffed and puffed lately about my
    recent article in Al-Ahram Weekly on "The Legacy of Jean-Paul Sartre",
    claiming that "The Jews, not being a nation by (Massad's) definition,
    cannot have nationalism. They have only racism..." I of course have not
    made such a claim. Israel is a racist state not because of Jewish
    nationalism but because of its legally institutionalised racism where only
    Jews (not Israelis) have rights and privileges based on their national
    belonging. I oppose any state that discriminates against its own citizens
    based on ethnic, religious, racial, national (or any other) grounds, and
    this especially includes those states that have discriminatory laws as
    Israel does. It is this and similar questions that Kramer and his followers
    do not want to draw attention to, as they have no convincing answers to
    offer. The question is: do Kramer and Pipes actually believe that these
    methods will work in suppressing our views and freedom of thought and
    force us to worship at the altar of their favourite settler-colony?

    Kramer, Pipes, and co are angry that the academy still allows
    democratic procedure in the expression of political views and has an
    institutionalised meritocratic system of judgment (admittedly with its own
    faults) to evaluate its members. Their goal is to destroy any semblance
    of either in favour of subjecting democracy and academic life to an
    incendiary jingoism and to the exigencies of the national security state
    with the express aim of imploding freedom. Their larger success,
    however, has been in discrediting themselves and in reminding all of us
    that we should never take the freedoms that we have for granted, as the
    likes of Kramer and Pipes are working to take them away.

    * The writer is assistant professor of Modern Arab Politics and
    Intellectual History at Columbia University .

    © Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved

    Al-Ahram Weekly Online : 10 -16 April 2003 (Issue No. 633)
    Located at:


    1 The only change I have made in this version of the statement is to
    remove the names of students, professors, and administrators that I had
    included in the original statement but who have not sought publicity on
    this issue. I did so to protect their privacy. I have kept the names of
    students who have spoken publicly.

    2 Charge to Ad Hoc Committee from the Vice President for Arts and

    3 This is the full course description for Spring 2001:

     “This course covers the history of Zionism in the wake of the Haskala in
    mid nineteenth century Europe and its development at the turn of the
    century through the current “peace process” between the state of Israel
    and the Palestinian national movement.  The course examines the
    impact of Zionism on European Jews and on Asian and African Jews on
    the one hand, and on Palestinian Arabs on the other --in Israel, in the
    Occupied Territories, and in the Diaspora.  The course also examines
    the internal dynamics in Palestinian and Israeli societies, looking at the
    roles class, gender and religion play in the politics of Israel and the
    Palestinian national movement.  The purpose of the course is to provide
    a thorough yet critical historical overview of the Zionist-Palestinian
    conflict to familiarize undergraduates with the background to the current

    4 This is the full course description for Spring 2002:

     “This course covers the history of Zionism in the wake of the Haskala in
    mid nineteenth century Europe and its development at the turn of the
    century through the current “peace process” between the state of Israel
    and the Palestinian national movement.  The course examines critically
    the impact of Zionism on European Jews and on Asian and African Jews
    on the one hand, and on Palestinian Arabs on the other --in Israel, in
    the Occupied Territories, and in the Diaspora.  The course also
    examines critically the internal dynamics in Palestinian and Israeli
    societies, looking at the roles class, gender and religion play in the
    politics of Israel and the Palestinian national movement.  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.”

    5 This is the course description for Spring 2004:

      “This course covers the history of Zionism in the wake of the Haskala
    in mid nineteenth century Europe and its development at the turn of the
    century through the current “peace process” between the state of Israel
    and the Palestinian national movement.  The course examines critically
    the impact of Zionism on European Jews and on Asian and African Jews
    on the one hand, and on Palestinian Arabs on the other --in Israel, in
    the Occupied Territories, and in the Diaspora.  The course also
    examines critically the internal dynamics in Palestinian and Israeli
    societies, looking at the roles class, gender and religion play in the
    politics of Israel and the Palestinian national movement.  The purpose of
    the course is to provide a thorough yet critical historical overview of the
    Zionist-Palestinian conflict to familiarize undergraduates with the
    background to the current situation.”


    7 See Daphna Berman, “Masks of Tolerance,” February 26, 2002.

    8 Ibid.

    9 Xan Nowakowski, Students Organize Sit-In To Support Palestinians,”
    Columbia Spectator, 18 April 2002.

    10 In a column that he posted on his website titled “Bir Zeit-on-Hudson,”
    on 5 Februray 2003, Kramer wrote this threatening statement: [Massad
    has] also failed to learn from Said that you lie low until you have tenure,
    but that's another matter.” On February 20, 2004, he wrote an entry
    about me stating Massad“wants tenure at Columbia, and will seek it with
    a new book entitled The Persistence of the Palestinian Question. Will
    Columbia scrape bottom?” In an entry on June 14, 2004, Kramer wrote
    “Here's my idea: Massad should be de-Columbia-nized when he comes
    up for tenure.” On October 22, after the David Project film was revealed
    to the public, Kramer wrote “I sincerely hope that Columbia will have the
    good sense not to tenure Massad, who is a pseudo-scholar…” and
    followed that on November 6 with the question: “So is Columbia
    prepared to tenure a professor who teaches that Christian (and Jewish)
    supporters of Israel in America are the world's most powerful anti-
    Semites? That's the crux of the Massad question.” All the above quotes
    can be found on On
    December 10, 2004, he wrote “If Columbia has any sense at all, he'll
    eventually have to struggle with the meaning of this word: unemployed.”
    Posted on

    11 See for example my interview with Nigel Parry of Electronic Intifada,
    posted on

    12 See Kramer’s “Bir Zeit-on-Hudson,” posted on 5 Februray 2003, http:

    13 Ariel Beery, “Middle East Certitude,” Columbia Spectator, 10 March

    14 Ariel Beery, “Between the Narrow Points,” Columbia Spectator, 14
    April 2003. See also his article “The Burning Flames,” Columbia
    Spectator, 24 April 2003.

    15 Joseph Massad, “Policing the Academy,” Al-Ahram Weekly, 10-16
    April 2003.

    16 Jacob Gershman, “Massad’s Theory: The Zionists are the Anti-
    Semites,” New York Sun, 22 February 2005.

    17 Rabbi Charles Sheer, “The Treatment of the Middle East Studies at
    Columbia University,” 6 January 2004, posted on the Hillel website: http:

    18 Ibid.

    19 See the transcript of “Columbia Unbecoming,” 10.

    20 I Rabbi Charles Sheer, “The Treatment of the Middle East Studies at
    Columbia University,” op.cit.

    21 Jacob Gershman, “Israel Is Accused of Anti-Semitism,” New York Sun,
    30 December 2003. They ran the correction on December 31.

    22 Jonathan Calt Harris, “Tenured Extremism,” New York Sun, 4 May

    23 This is the full text of my letter:

    May 16, 2004

    Mr. Joel J. Levy, Director
    Anti-Defamation League
    823 United Nations Plaza
    New York, N.Y. 10017

    Dear Director Levy,

      I was deeply disturbed by the accusations that your letter of May 6,
    2004 leveled against me. The “reports” that you have received from “ a
    student who attended the lecture” are utterly inaccurate and bear little
    relationship to the text of my lecture. My principled stance against anti-
    Semitism and all kinds of racism is a matter of public record and cannot
    be assailed by defamatory “reports” or by letters from the ADL that
    consider them credible sources.  Indeed I have condemned anti-
    Semitism in my Arabic and English writings, regardless of whether the
    person expressing it was pro-Israel or anti-Israel, an Arab, an American
    Christian, or an Israeli Jew (you may consult with my review of Israel
    Shahak’s and Norton Mezvinsky’s book  Jewish Fundamentalism
    published by the Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies and available
    where I condemn the anti-Semitic approach used by anti-Zionist Israeli
    Jewish scholars to analyze Judaism and Jewish fundamentalism).  
     I therefore expect a prompt correction of the errors contained in your
    letter and demand an immediate apology, a copy of which should be
    sent to President Bollinger.


    Joseph Massad
    Assistant Professor

    Cc: President Lee C. Bollinger
     Provost Alan Brinkley

    24 Jacob Gershman, “Columbia Abuzz Over Underground Film,” New
    York Sun, 20 October 2004.

    25 Charles Jacobs and Avi Goldwasser, “In Defense of the David
    Project,” Columbia Spectator, 16 November 2004.

    26 See my “Response to the Intimidation of Columbia University,” posted
    on my Columbia webpage on 3 November 2004: http://www.columbia.

    27 Shanker’s claim was first reported by Jacob Gershman, “Columbia
    Prepared to Protect Students from anti-Israel bias,” New York Sun, 17
    November 2004.

    28 N.R. Kleinfield, “Mideast Tensions Are Getting Personal on Campus
    at Columbia,” New York Times, 14 January 2005.

    29 Uriel Heilman, “Non-Academic Debate,’ Jerusalem Post, 23 December

    30 Jacob Gershman, “Bias Festerd ‘For Years,’ Professor Says,” New
    York Sun, 29 October 2004.

    31 Statement from Lee C. Bollinger on the David Project Film, October
    27, 2004.

    32 See for example Sam Dillon, “Columbia to Check Reports of Anti-
    Jewish Harassment,” New York Times, 29 October 2004.

    33 Jacob Gershman, “Columbia Probe Eyed By Council, ” New York
    Sun, November 12, 2004.

    34 Jennifer Senior, “Columbia's Own Middle East War,”New York
    Magazine, January 10, 2005.

    35 Liel Leibovitz, “The Winter of His Content,” Jewish Week, 4 March

    36 Lisa Hirshmann, “Over Dinner, Bollinger On Academic Freedom,”
    Columbia Spectator, 10 March  2005

    37 Ibid.

    38 See “Israel Cancer research fund, Women  of Achievement Lunch to
    Fight Cancer,” in 15 Minutes, about his emceeing such an event.

    39 The quote is posted on the book publisher’s website: http://www.wiley.

    40 Martin Kramer, “The Columbia Club of Middle Eastern Studies,” 5
    November 2002, weblog can be found on:

    41 Jennifer Senior, “Columbia's Own Middle East War,”, New York
    Magazine, January 10, 2005.

    42 Ibid.

    43 Liel Leibowitz, “The Winter Of His Content,” Jewish Week, 4 March

    44 Ibid.

    45 Liel Leibowitz, ‘Winter of his Content,” op.cit.

    46 Jacob Gershman, “Ex-Prosecutor Likens Massad Speech to a 'Neo-
    Nazi Rally',” New York Sun, 25 February 25.

    47 “President Lee Bollinger's Statement on the Divestment Campaign” 7
    November 2002

    48 Minutes of the General Meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences,
    16 February 2005


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