His 2013 article “The Last of the Semites,” published on the website of the Al-Jazeera TV network, has been described by The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg as “one of the most anti-Jewish screeds in recent memory.” Paul S. Appelbaum, a Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Law at Columbia, maintained that the essay reflected a “profound ignorance of Jewish history” and that it had, in fact, represented a deliberate effort to “slander…Jews and Christians simultaneously.”
We’re talking about Joseph Massad, the Columbia University professor who, as we saw yesterday, is a vile and dishonest anti-Semite. This is, after all, a man who has argued that “all the good Jews were killed in the Holocaust” and has claimed that early Zionists collaborated with the Nazis, to wit: “The Nazis’ Final Solution initially meant the expulsion of Germany’s Jews to Madagascar….It is this shared goal of expelling Jews from Europe as a separate unassimilable race that created the affinity between Nazis and Zionists all along.” Scholars who are actually experts in the history of Nazism and Zionism have thoroughly refuted Massad’s claims – and expressed contempt for them: “Zionism, according to Massad, emerged not as a response to European anti-Semitism but in sympathy with its racialist precepts,” writes columnist Liam Hoare, who views Massad’s equation of Nazism and Zionism as “the statement of a sick and disordered mind.”
When he was up for tenure, Massad insisted that, one student’s accusation to the contrary, he had never equated Israel and Nazi Germany. Such an equation, he said, would be “abhorrent…reprehensible.” But after he had been granted tenure, Massad saw no further need to misrepresent his views: in a 2009 article entitled “The Gaza Ghetto Uprising,” he charged Israel with planning to “make Israel a purely Jewish state that is Palästinener-rein” – a formulation that explicitly identified Israel with Nazi Germany. He’s also maintained that the Israeli Defense Forces are composed of “brigades of baby-killers.”
For Massad, Israel isn’t the Jewish homeland – it’s an outpost of American imperialism. And though the Jordan-born Massad has found great success in America, he appears to have nothing but contempt for it. In a 2004 article for the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram, he depicted America as an apocalyptic nightmare of misogyny and “violent racism.” He referred to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War as “the US invasion of Vietnam” and wrote about that war as if the U.S. were the sole, or at least by far the worst, aggressor. He complained that while Westerners “never tire of speaking of sexism and women’s oppression in the Arab World, including the Western horror at ‘honour crimes,’ it might be time to address the rampant Western misogyny which disdains all that is feminine and posits women as the terrain of male conquest.”
He suggested that women in America are in greater danger of being murdered by their husbands and boyfriends than their counterparts in the Muslim world. He argued that the American military systematically “freminise[s]” Iraqi men. He cited the bizarre 1997 case of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima, who was rectally violated by a broomstick wielded by sadistic New York City policemen, as proof “that white American male sexuality exhibits certain sadistic attributes in the presence of non-white men and women over whom white Americans (and Brits) have government- sanctioned racialised power.” And he argued that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib, far from being unreflective of American military conduct in general, was “emblematic of American and British imperial cultures not only at present but also historically.” In short, Americans are “rednecks” who view Muslims and Arabs with a “concentrated spirit of hatred” that causes them to act upon “the most savage and barbaric of instincts.”
To read Massad, one would think that Palestinians were innocent victims, that Saddam’s monstrous acts of violence against his own people had never taken place, that Arab and Muslim cultures are peaceable kingdoms – oases of civilized conduct and respect for women beside which American society is primitive, brutal, and permeated with rape. “[T]he content of the word ‘freedom’ that American politicians and propagandists want to impose on the rest of the world,” he wrote, “is nothing more and nothing less than America’s violent domination, racism, torture, sexual humiliation, and the rest of it.” No Taliban propagandist could have put it better.