[Marxism] LH Action Alert: Pro-Israel Racists, Witch-hunters Arriving at Columbia

M. Junaid Alam mjunaidalam at msalam.net
Thu Mar 3 04:24:39 MST 2005

The following statement has been drafted by the newly formed
Stop McCarthyism at Columbia (SMAC), whose purpose is to combat the
witch-hunt directed at Arab-born professors who do not shrink
from their duty as human beings to stand against the grave injustices
suffered by Palestinians at the hands of their US-financed Israeli


Stop McCarthyism at Columbia (SMAC) Statement

Recently, professors at Columbia University, in particular professors
at the Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures Department
(MEALAC), have been the target of a politically motivated intimidation
campaign. These attacks were sparked by the limited release of
Columbia Unbecoming, a filmed collection of unsubstantiated claims
against professors sympathetic to Palestinian human rights. The film
is funded by the David Project, an initiative founded in 2002 to
silence thoughtful criticism of Zionism and Israeli policy, and to
squelch dissent. The film systematically excludes a broad range of
views and the perspectives of many satisfied Columbia students –Jewish
and non-Jewish alike.

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger has bowed to external
political pressure from media, outside pro-Israel lobby groups and
local elected officials. His office is now heading an investigation of
targeted professors. The New York City Council has warned that if the
University investigation "comes up dry", they will launch their own
investigation. As a result of the negative publicity, one of the most
targeted faculty, Professor Joseph Massad, will not be teaching his
signature course, Israeli and Palestinian Societies and Cultures, this
Spring. Other professors sympathetic to Palestinian human rights who
not were specifically targeted by Columbia Unbecoming are nonetheless
suffering from this vicious campaign. For instance, eminent historian
and Professor Rashid Khalidi, director of the Middle East Institute at
Columbia, was recently fired from the New York City Teacher Training
Program on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Development, a volunteer
position he has held for years.

Though the David Project claims political balance, Columbia
Unbecoming is a patchwork of incoherent, uncorroborated accusations.
The Project itself is part of a larger campaign against critics of the
US and Israel and their roles in the Middle East. This campaign
includes groups like Campus Watch and Scholars for Peace in the Middle
East as well as propagandists such as Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes.
A major strategy of these groups and individuals is to equate
criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, and to use this charge to
silence critical voices. Indeed, the US government is now considering
legislation, HR 3077, that will increase monitoring of Middle East
studies programs in order to silence critique. These acts draw from
the general rise in discrimination against Arabs, Muslims, and South
Asians within the context of US militarism. This is the new
McCarthyism. Columbia University is not immune to this climate.

In this time of war and increased repression, we express our concern
for the broader implications and negative precedent that these
unwarranted investigations are likely to set. For instance, tenured
professor, Ward Churchill, was recently compelled to resign from the
chairmanship of his department at the University of Colorado for his
political views.

We affirm the right of all professors and students to voice their
opinions and dissent, and condemn all forms of discrimination
including anti-Semitism, anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia.

Therefore, we demand that,

   * Columbia University defend its faculty and immediately drop its
baseless and unjust investigation of the professors under attack.
Criticism of Israel is not intimidation.
   * The University issue a public apology for failing to defend the
right of these professors to free and dissenting speech
   * The University, furthermore, issue an affirmative statement that
such attacks and dishonest tactics are simply unacceptable
   * The New York City Council immediately withdraw its proposed
investigation of the attacked professors.

Protest Announcements:

Campus & Citywide Speakout:

Organised by: Stop McCarthyism at Columbia (SMAC)

When: Sunday, March 6th -1pm
Where: Columbia Univ., 116th & B'way, sundial located on college walk
For more info: contact_smac at yahoo.com

Join SMAC to defend free speech. Recently, professors at Columbia
University have been the target of a politically motivated
intimidation campaign by right-wing pro-Israel groups like Scholars
for Peace in the Middle East. Now these same groups are hosting a
day-long conference at Columbia with some of the most viciously
racist, anti-Arab propagandists as guest speakers.

These include the likes of Martin Kramer, co-founder of Campus Watch,
a website designed to blacklist academics critical of Israeli and
American policies. Also speaking is Harvard professor, Alan
Dershowitz, who is well-known for advocating torture. Charles Jacobs,
founder of the David Project, will also be there. The Project, which
targets professors sympathetic to Palestinian human rights, is
responsible for funding Columbia Unbecoming, a filmed collection of
unsubstantiated claims against Columbia professors.

This is the new McCarthyism. Already, Professor Rashid Khalidi, has
been fired from his position at an NYC Teacher Training Program for
criticising Israel's occupation and racist stance towards
Palestinians. This is part of a larger national campaign to silence
critics of US and Israeli policies in the Middle East.

Free speech is not intimidation. Dissent is not intimidation.
Threatening professors for exercising their rights, is. It's wrong to
scapegoat Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians. Join us to defend our
professors and speak out against the racist message of this

Organised by Stop McCarthyism at Columbia (SMAC)

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