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Columbia Boycotts Israel?

The Gaza war has raised up another tide of Holocaust inversion: the claim by assorted Jew-baiters that Israel has become the Nazis, and the Palestinians their Jewish victims. This was a staple of old Soviet propaganda, which then spread to the Arab world. It took a while for Arab elites, many of which had been admiring of the Nazis, to see “Nazi” as pejorative. But in time they saw the advantages, especially since Holocaust inversion also served to trivialize the Holocaust itself. In recent years, the sickness has spread throughout the Left in Europe, and even festers in dark places in the United States. In a new article over at Mosaic Magazine, I locate one of them: the faculty lounge of Columbia University. Comparisons of Gaza to Auschwitz? The Warsaw Ghetto? Columbia has it all. Read more there.

While I’m on Columbia, here’s another aspect worth noting. Several hundred Middle East scholars have put out a letter pledging to boycott Israeli institutions of higher education. The organized association of Middle Eastern studies has rejected boycotts in the past, and is likely to do so again if the issue even gets tabled at the next convention. So the boycott of Israel in Middle Eastern studies is being organized along the lines of a personal pledge by individual scholars.

Israeli institutions of higher education (including, presumably, the one over which I preside, Shalem College in Jerusalem), are deemed by these scholars to be “complicit in violating Palestinian rights.” The signatories thus pledge “not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or to attend conferences at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel.” The pledge will remain in effect until these institutions call on Israel to end the Gaza “siege,” evacuate all territory “occupied” in 1967, and “promote the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.” In other words, it’s a boycott until Israel dies.

I looked down the list of signatories, and mostly saw the usual suspects. Columbia, of course, is heavily represented. The boycotters include such tenured Columbia radicals as Rashid Khalidi, Nadia Abu El-Haj, Hamid Dabashi, Gil Anidjar, Mahmood Mamdani, George Saliba, Brinkley Messick, Timothy Mitchell, and Wael Hallaq. In fact, no university has more senior faculty boycotters signed on this letter than Columbia.

But one name in particular caught my eye: Lila Abu-Lughod, professor of anthropology. I remembered that she had become director of Columbia’s Middle East Institute a few years back. Why is that significant? The Institute she directs is a Title VI U.S. Department of Education-supported National Resource Center (NRC) for the Middle East. An NRC is supposed to “maintain linkages with overseas institutions of higher education and other organizations that may contribute to the teaching and research of the Center.”

The question I now have is whether this (taxpayer-subsidized) academic unit of Columbia is boycotting Israeli academe? Or are we to believe that Professor Abu-Lughod is only boycotting Israeli institutions personally, but is prepared to cooperate with them officially? Columbia should issue a clarification, and give a public account of the overseas institutional linkages the Institute does have, so that we can see whether a de facto boycott of Israel is in place at Columbia. You can even pose the question yourself, to Columbia’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs, right here.



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2 Responses to “Columbia Boycotts Israel?”

  1. RODGER MITCHELL says:

    They really should boycott everything Hamas, for it is that evil organization which has cause the people of Gaza such misery.

    Had Hamas devoted the time, money and physical resources to building a life for Gaza’s citizens, rather than devotion to tunnel digging and rocket purchases, Gaza could be the Hong Kong of the middle-east.

    Instead, it is a Pyongyang.

    Contrary to popular belief, there is plenty of open land in Gaza, and until Hamas declared itself the warrior party, there was plenty of food, clothing and supplies coming in. Now, Israel has had to make imports more difficult, in order to slow the flow of weapons.

    While Hamas leaders hide in tunnels and Qatar, the populace takes the brunt of its repeated, useless wars.

    Sadly, the people have been trained to believe killing Jewish children takes precedence over raising their own children.

  2. RON WASSERMAN says:

    I breathed a sigh of relief when I scrolled down to the
    bottom of the long opening paragraph to find that Martin
    Kramer was referring to Columbia University and not the
    Republic of Columbia. Otherwise, I might have to drop a
    few friends and change my coffee habits. CU is a nest of
    committed lefties and subversives anyway. Who else in
    NYC academia would hire Kathy Boudin? The whole matter
    should be tit-for-tat. Supporters of Israel should not
    attend CU nor send their children there to study.




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