TEL AVIV – 250 people signed an open letter Tuesday calling on Columbia University to urge a professor to step down over his “anti-Semitic bigotry” after he claimed Israel is behind “every dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world.”
Hamid Dabashi, who teaches Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at the university, came under fire for a post shared on his Facebook page — which has since been taken down — in which he also slammed “opponents of the Iran Nuclear deal” as “diehard Fifth Column Zionists.”
He also sent out a tweet, which is still active, blaming Israel for every “ugly” act “happening in the world.”
Every dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world just wait for a few days and the ugly name of “Israel” will pup… https://t.co/DcbxoJt3HO
— Hamid Dabashi (@HamidDabashi) May 8, 2018
Nearly 250 alumni, students, faculty, and representatives from Jewish groups said “Dabashi’s statements echo common anti-Semitic canards and meet the working definition of anti-Semitism that the State Department has been using for years,” in the letter to Columbia President Lee Bollinger and the school’s Board of Trustees.
They noted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which counts the U.S. as one of its 30 member states, that stipulates that “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”
Dabashi’s statements are the latest in a sordid history the professor has of “depicting Israelis as Nazis, comparing Israel to ISIS, [and] accusing Israel of genocide” — “promote a hostile environment on campuses for pro-Israel and Jewish students,” they warned.
“Relieve Professor Dabashi of teaching responsibilities until he commits to recognizing and ending his anti-Semitic rhetoric,” the letter added.
Several of the signatories sent along testimonies as an appendix to the letter, which was organized by Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF), a group that confronts campus antisemitism.
Associate director of Columbia’s Center of Innovation and Outcomes Research Paul Kurlansky slammed Dabashi’s “virulent anti-Semitic pronouncements.”
“I cannot imagine the impact that such behavior has on both Jewish students and all students concerned with human decency,” he wrote. “If faculty is to be vigilant (and appropriately so) lest the slightest remark be found offensive to our student body, how then is the University to deal with one in position of authority who is so openly hostile?”
Both current students and alumni criticized the school for being a hotbed of antisemitism.
A postdoctoral fellow at Columbia who preferred to remain anonymous questioned why “the university would, rightfully, never hire a klansman as faculty and yet it tolerates this kind of anti-Jewish racist as a professor within its ranks?”
“Hiring anti-semites as professors is a practice that stems back to at least the time I was an undergrad, here in the college, in the early 90’s,” the fellow asserted. “Back then, I personally experienced vitriol and hate, in a core Middle-Eastern studies class, hurled at me by an anti-semitic professor who learned of my Israeli parentage.”
Dalia Zahger, an incoming senior who serves as president of her school’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel, said she felt attacked because of her religion.
“As an Israeli student I feel targeted in this University by professors such as Dabashi,” she observed. “I expect the administration to AT LEAST help me by condemning him when needed.”
Adele Stolovitz, president of the Israel advocacy group Aryeh at Columbia, who told The Algemeiner earlier this month that Dabashi’s comments threatened “Jewish, Israeli, and Zionist students.”
“Many Zionist students at Columbia have become desensitized to hearing anti-Israel rhetoric in our classrooms and on our University-wide social media,” Stolovitz said. “But the prevalence of these bigoted views in our forums does not negate the vileness of Dabashi’s statement.”