Commentary Magazine


Massad: the Next Generation

In a previous post I cited a Haaretz piece that describes the attitude of Barnard Professor Nadia Abu El-Haj, the post-modern anthropologist who dismisses all archaeological evidence of biblical history, and in fact the value of evidence more broadly.

I neglected to mention that the piece was written by Bari Weiss, who in 2005, while an undergrad at Columbia, was one of the leading student voices against anti-Western, anti-Israel thuggery then taking place in the classrooms of several professors, most notably Joseph Massad.

Now Ynet reports that an Israeli professor, Nizar Hassan of Sapir College in Israel’s southern Negev region, has taken a lesson from Massad & Friends. Last week he denied entry to a student, Eyal Cohen, who arrived in class wearing an IDF uniform, having come from a long and grueling stint of reserve duty. (In Israel, most people go to college only after completing army duty, and often have their studies interrupted by reserve call-ups that can last anywhere from a few days to a month. Soldiers on campus are not uncommon, for they are frequently students themselves.) Hassan, a filmmaker who considers the IDF to be evil, announced that “I do not teach soldiers, policemen, and officers in uniform.” When Cohen refused to leave, Hassan spent much of the lesson taunting him and refusing his questions. Although the incident has aroused the protests of members of Israel’s parliament, many of Hassan’s colleagues have rallied to support him, in the name of “academic freedom.”

It seems natural that individuals in institutes of higher learning would see themselves as symbols of reason, enlightenment, and freedom of thought; what is strange is that such individuals might also find great comfort in stifling and humiliating others.