Ivory Tower Bigots

David Mikics

Tablet Magazine

Tue Oct 16 2018

Anti-Zionism is a form of racism like any other: The erasing of a nation’s experience, the denial of their right to speak. Often it comes twinned with the old anti-Semitic gestures. Jews are cruel, enjoying domination for its own sake; they are money-hungry and care nothing about others. They are, in fact, a world historical evil, unique among the nations. The fact that American universities are the new breeding ground for this moral idiocy is no surprise, since the academy has so often provided a home for repellent ideologies. Now that Stalinism and Maoism are passé, anti-Zionism has become the latest way to excuse massacres, now rechristened “resistance,” in the name of history.

“The Zionists are committing astonishing acts of vulgar thievery in full view of people around the globe,” wrote Hamid Dabashi, a tenured professor at Columbia University, earlier this year. Israel, he said, rules over Arabs “with brutish violence and unmatched vulgarity.” Dabashi, the Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, had earlier argued that decades of “systematic maiming and murdering” of Palestinians had left “deep marks on the faces of these people,” Israeli Jews: on “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 … a vulgarity of character that is bone-deep.”

Dabashi made his comments in the South Atlantic Quarterly, the prestigious academic journal published by Duke—proof that anti-Semitic drivel is the one form of overt bigotry that many elite schools not only tolerate but encourage. Not all campus anti-Semites sound like Hamid Dabashi. Some take pains to present an objective scholarly front. But the front is a sham. Many are propagandists rather than scholars. Some of these people are Jewish, and no doubt think of themselves as philo-Semites rather than anti-Semites, as long as the Jews in question are the good, anti-Zionist ones, like themselves. But anti-Semitic tropes make up the backbone of their work. They treat Israel as a unique evil among the nations. Their wish to erase Israel from the map makes them part of the discourse of anti-Semitism, which, like all racism, is structural....

Ivory Tower Bigots