THE SPINE NOVEMBER 14, 2007
Poor Lee Bollinger. He has done much of the dirty work for the faculty Left at Columbia University, especially in maintaining the regime and regimen installed by Edward Said. Columbia is now the primary academic center of hostility to Zionism and Israel in the United States. Just look at its Middle Eastern offerings and professors. So is the Left grateful that the university president has made decision after decision to protect its standing among the post-colonial whatever? Not at all. After all, Bollinger had been having trouble with his trustees and some of his most distinguished professors about the dramatic institutional bias. So, when -- for the second time in two years -- the School for International and Public Affairs (with a dean whom he had appointed) invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak, the pressure was on. Ah, said the "free speech for everyone" president to himself, "I'll let him speak but I'll tell him off, too." Brilliant! Oh, such brilliance.And suddenly the issue has become one of politesse. Bollinger's rebuke of the holocaust-denying and genocide-threatening tyrant "sullied the reputation of the University with its strident tone," reads one point in a letter denouncing the president and signed by more than 100 faculty. Oh, yes, Bollinger's fit of distemper also "allied the University with the Bush administration's war in Iraq." All of this is described in an article in Wednesday's Times and Tuesday's Sun.It is in the Sun that you can read which faculty make up this list: the newly tenured archaeology professor Nadia Abu El-Haj, Lila Abu-Lughod, Qais Al-Awqati, and this is just the first three. Rashid Khalidi also signed and George Saliba. Plus Hamid Dabashi, accused of anti-Semitic bias by Columbia students, here's in his own words are his views about Israelis:
Half a century of systematic maiming and murdering of another people has left its deep marks on the faces of these people. The way they talk, the way they walk, the way they handle objects, the way they greet each other, the way they look at the world. There is an endemic prevarication to this machinery, a vulgarity of character that is bone-deep and structural to the skeletal vertebrae of its culture.
And, yes, Mahmood Mamdani and Zainab Bahrani. There you have the core of the Middle Eastern faculty. At least one Jew in the department has also signed: Mark Mazower. Then there are the radicals by genetic inheritance: Peter Marcuse and Eric Foner. About the Jews: there are almost certainly more Jewish signatories than Muslims. In fact, as usual, Jews are attracted to a certain self-righteous radicalism; and, if it has an anti-Jewish undercurrent, the more pleasant to sign.