SOFT ON ANTI-SEMITISM (NEW YORK POST OP-ED) BY RYAN SAGER 02/03/05)
NEW YORK POST
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February 3, 2005 -- COLUMBIA University is about to host yet another
apparent anti-Semite. But President Lee Bollinger is still bent on
saving his school´s image rather than grappling with its real
On Feb. 10, Columbia´s Heyman Center for the Humanities will host a
talk by Tom Paulin, an Irish poet infamous for telling an Arab paper
that Brooklyn-born Israeli settlers "should be shot dead . . . they
are Nazis, racists, I feel nothing but hatred for them."
Paulin also says that Israel has no right to exist and that he
resigned from Britain´s Labor Party because it was "Zionist."
In its defense, Columbia notes that Paulin will only be part of a
panel discussing 18th century statesman Edmund Burke. "This has
nothing to do with contemporary politics," says Columbia spokeswoman
Katherine Moore. "We don´t condone anti-Semitic behavior or
expression of any kind."
Ariel Beery, an undergrad who´s been a leader on this issue, sees it
differently, saying: "Columbia would never invite a speaker who
called for the killing of African-Americans or homosexuals."
All this follows a deluge of evidence of intolerance in Columbia´s
Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures.
But Bollinger doesn´t seem to be up to the task of turning back the
tide of hate. The problem had gotten bad enough last year that he was
obliged to set up a panel to look into the possibility of bias and
intimidation in Columbia´s classrooms. It came up with zilch.
Which became an embarrassment in November, when the student
documentary "Columbia Unbecoming" was screened on campus. The film
details abusive behavior by professors toward Jewish students
charges aired initially in The New York Sun.
One Jewish girl was allegedly told by a professor of Islamic
civilization, George Saliba, that she had no business questioning his
views because, "You have no claim to the land of Israel . . . You
have green eyes. You´re not a Semite. I have brown eyes. I´m a
Joseph Massad, an untenured professor of Arab politics, allegedly
demanded of one Israeli student, "How many Palestinians have you
Bollinger´s solution? Create another committee to look into the
problem. This one is due to report late this month or early next. But
the conflicts of interest faced by its five members are enough to
make Kofi Annan´s "investigation" of the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal
look like a model of independence:
Lisa Anderson, the dean of Columbia´s School of International and
Public Affairs, was Massad´s thesis adviser and was thanked in his
Anderson was also involved in the campaign that raised $4 million to
endow the Edward Said Chair of Arab Studies. In that capacity, she
defended the university´s decision in contravention of state and
federal law to initially withhold the names of the 20 contributors
from the public. One $200,000 donation came from the government of
the United Arab Emirates, which denies the Holocaust on state TV.
Columbia hasn´t returned the cash.
Mark Mazower, a professor of history, wrote in The Financial Times
that America went to war in Iraq for the benefit of Israel and that
Israel is to blame for global anti-Semitism.
Farah Jasmine Griffin and Jean Howard signed a divestment petition
against Israel in 2002. Bollinger himself called that petition "both
grotesque and offensive" for comparing Israel to South Africa.
Ira Katznelson was the interim vice president for Arts and Sciences
when students first brought their complaints to the university´s
administration in the summer of last year they say he ignored them.
The kicker, however, is the man who hand-picked the committee for
Bollinger is Nick Dirks whose wife co-teaches a class with Massad.
In short, there´s not even a nod to the concept of balance here. It´s
likely to be a second straight whitewash which won´t cut it.
Columbia´s name will keep on soaking in the mud.
The rot in the school´s Middle East studies program certainly
predates Bollinger. But how he deals with the brooking-no-dissent
anti-Israel ferment among his faculty will define his tenure as
"He needs to have more people, respected scholars of course, that
would bring up other views," says Dan Miron, a professor of Hebrew
literature at Columbia.
But adding variety to the faculty will take some time. Meanwhile, if
Bollinger wants to know where he could get started, he should look at
what Harvard´s Lawrence Summers has done to clean house at his
Where Bollinger refuses to let go of $200,000 donated by Arab
hatemongers, Summers returned a gift of $2.5 million from the same
exact source. That´s how you start building credibility.
Another way would be to let the odious Tom Paulin know: He´s not
welcome. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (Copyright 2005 NYP Holdings, Inc.
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