Meet Joseph Massad. He is a professor in Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. As has been widely noted (see, for example, James Panero’s report on our weblog at, Massad is accused of asking one Israeli student who had served in the Israeli army, “How many Palestinians did you kill?” Sol Stern and Fred Siegel, writing in The New York Sun, reported that at a recent panel discussion at Columbia on conflict in the Middle East, Massad used the phrase “racist Israeli state” more than two dozen times and argued that Yasser Arafat “was in effect an Israeli collaborator for even talking about compromise.” The rash of anti-Semitic incidents at Columbia—best symbolized, perhaps, by the creation of an Edward Said Chair in Arab Studies (which is almost as good as the Alger Hiss Chair in the Humanities at Bard College)—has received national attention. So has the response by Lee Bollinger, Columbia’s president. Stung by the accusations, Bollinger appointed a committee to investigate. It has yet to deliver its findings, but we can already predict a whitewash. Why? Look at who is on the five-person committee. As the The New York Post reported, two members signed an anti-Israel divestment petition; one was Joseph Massad’s thesis advisor; another has written that Israel is responsible for global anti-Semitism; and the last is a university administrator “who ignored student complaints [about anti-Semitism] for months. The man who handpicked the committee, Nick Dirks, is married to a professor who co-teaches a class with Massad.” How long will Columbia’s Trustees allow Lee Bollinger to preside over this travesty?

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 23 Number 7, on page 3
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