During the last week and more we’ve been strolling through Columbia University’s Hall of Shame. We’ve met Hamid Dabashi and Gil Anidjar, both of them Professors of Middle Eastern Studies who, hired to teach culture and history, have instead filled their students’ heads with outright lies born of ugly prejudice.
Here’s a third member of that club: Joseph Massad. Not only is he a member of the Columbia faculty; he received his Ph.D. from that institution. Middle East expert Martin Kramer, indeed, has described Massad as “the ultimate mutant in the Columbia freak show” and as “a thoroughly Columbia creation. Columbia gave him his doctorate, Columbia University Press published it, and Columbia gave him his tenure-track job.” Kramer has also identified Massad as one of several Columbia professors who “have distinguished themselves in the black art of defaming Israel as a Holocaust emulator.”
Born in Jordan in 1963, Massad has often been at the center of controversy owing to his statements about Jews. As Gilead Ini of CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) wrote in 2005, Massad “redefines anti-Semitism, Jews and Israel to suit his radical agenda.” For Massad, Ini noted, Israel is a “racist settler colony,” consistently brutal and sadistic; the Palestinians, however brutal and sadistic they may actually be, are in fact doing nothing other than pursuing their “legitimate rights…to resist.”
Ini summed it up as follows: “To Massad, it seems, everything about Israel is racist, whereas the notion of Arab ‘anti-Semitism’ – set in scare quotes – is mocked.” What about anti-Semitism directed at Jews, especially by Muslims? For Massad, there is no such thing; Jews have been transformed by their own modern history from the victims to the perpetrators of anti-Semitism, with Muslims and Arabs as the new victims thereof. Massad’s picture of anti-Semitism today is very clear and utterly divorced from reality: for him, Muslims who deny the Holocaust aren’t anti-Semites; Zionist Jews are.
Indeed, Massad has argued that today’s Jews aren’t really Jews at all – he denies that they descend from the Hebrews of the Bible. To claim otherwise, he has written, is “preposterous.” Instead, it’s the Palestinians who are the descendants of the ancient Hebrews. Today’s Israeli Jews, far from reclaiming their ancient homeland, are merely tools of “European white supremacy,” instruments of Western colonialism. He even dares to maintain that in the 1930s, while the Nazis were carrying out Kristallnacht against Jews in Germany, Jews in the Holy Land were eagerly taking part in “British colonial death squads that murdered Palestinian revolutionaries between 1936 and 1939.”
As Ini points out, this is a mirror image of the truth: “In 1936, Arabs launched a six month campaign of violence against Jews and their property.” Some Jews retaliated, but, as an official British report stated at the time, “in times of disturbance the Jews, as compared with the Arabs, are the law-abiding section of the population, and indeed, throughout the whole series of outbreaks, and under very great provocation, they have shown a notable capacity for discipline and self-restraint.” But this lie, according to Ini, is only one of innumerable instances in Massad’s writings in which he “relies heavily on quotes taken out of context” or on “blatant fabrications” in order to paint various distinguished Israelis as anti-Arab bigots.
But there’s more. Tune in tomorrow.