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Columbia Unmoored: Academics Appropriate the Holocaust to Bash Israel

Karys Rhea

The Tower

Fri Mar 08 2019

Where is the line between criticizing Israel’s policies and anti-Semitism? Look no further than two late-January events at Columbia University’s Middle East Institute (MEI) that demonstrated how far Middle East studies academics are willing to go to promote anti-Semitism under the guise of anti-Zionism. Together, they provide a snapshot of the intellectual and moral decline of contemporary academia.

The first event was a panel discussion based on The Holocaust and the Nakba: A New Grammar of Trauma and History, a book published last year by Columbia University Press. Panelists drew a hollow connection between the slaughter of six million Jews in the Holocaust to the displacement of roughly 600,000 Palestinians at Israel’s founding in 1948 — known in Arabic as the “Nakba,” or catastrophe. Yet they omitted the contemporaneous dislocation of over 900,000 Jews from the Arab countries where their families had lived for thousands of years.

Preaching to a like-minded audience of around eighty, the speakers took pains to shield themselves from charges of antisemitism or moral relativism: “We are not claiming that they are equally equivalent events,” declared Hebrew University Professor Amos Goldberg.

This strategic disclaimer was repeated several times throughout the discussion, even as panelists consistently portrayed the two disparate events as morally equivalent....

Columbia Unmoored: Academics Appropriate the Holocaust to Bash Israel