Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Phony Defenders of Academic Freedom

Juan Cole, a respected expert on Iraq and Shi'ism, writes on his blog

Those who care anything for freedom of speech and academic integrity should please rise to the defense of Professor Joseph Massad at Columbia University. A concerted campaign has been gotten up against him by the American Likud, aimed at getting him fired.

We don't fire professors in the United States for their views when we are in our right minds.
Only thing is that the site Prof Cole links to is also campaign for an academic boycott of Israel. An "academic boycott" button is prominently displayed at the top of the page. There is no way in which it can be missed. The site belongs to Mona Baker who has removed Israeli scholars from the editorial boards of The Translator and Translation Studies.

Moreover, the issue with Professor Massad is not so much whether he should be fired, but whether he should be granted tenure. The controversy has heated up because of a film which interviews students who reported bias in Massad's classes.

From what I have seen of Massad public writings, he is an anti-Israel ideologue.

The letter defending Massad states Massad "has courageously written in Arabic and in English against anti-Semitism and anti-Semites."

In reality, Massad's essay on anti-Semitism attacks Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida, Pierre Bourdieu, Etienne Balibar, and Slavoj Zizek for being too sympathetic to the victims of the Holocaust. Accroding to Massad, there is no such thing as Arab anti-Semitism (it's just a myth of and Zionism is European racism.

The only anti-Semitism which Massad seems to denounce is-- Zionism! Believe it or not this is what he writes.
Zionism's anti-Semitic project of destroying Jewish cultures and languages in the diaspora in the interest of an invented Hebrew that none of them spoke, and in the interest of evicting them from Europe and transporting them to an Asian land to which they had never been, is never examined by these intellectuals. Nor do they ever examine the ideological and practical collusion between Zionism and anti- Semitism since the inception of the movement.
According to Massad, the only way to support Palestinian national rights is by denouncing the racist roots of the Israeli state.

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