Updated: Jun 7, 2019
In our previous blog post dated June 17, 2018, we wrote that Provost John Coatsworth and Executive Vice President of University Life Suzanne Goldberg failed to adequately respond to professor Hamid Dabashi's anti-Semitic diatribes on social media.
Provost John Coatsworth and Executive Vice President Suzanne Goldberg
In their letter dated June 8th, Provost Coatsworth and VP Goldberg refused to even acknowledge that the University finds anything objectionable in Dabashi's anti-Semitic statements. Instead, they gave the University a backhanded compliment for its defense of the freedom of expression by stating that "...in such environment, members of our community will inevitably be confronted with views they find highly objectionable." In short, to Coatsworth and Goldberg Dabashi's vile statements are nothing but a proof of Columbia's success in fostering a great environment for freedom of expression where only "members of community" could find anything objectionable in anti-Semitic diatribes.
“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, walk, the way they greet each other… There is a vulgarity of character that is bone-deep and structural to the skeletal vertebrae of its culture."
-- Professor Hamid Dabashi writing in Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram in 2004
The University's inadequate response raises a more important issue. Why does Columbia University refuse to stand up to anti-Israel demonization, delegitimation of Israel and downright anti-Semitic bigotry? Why does Columbia University administration approve, if only by omission, the application of double standard to Israel? Why is this Ivy League bastion of liberalism located in the heart of the largest Jewish community in the US is soft on anti-Semitism? Would Columbia University administration be as tolerant and reticent to hate towards any other minority group?
On July 9th Victor Muslin, the leader of the ACF's Columbia University and Barnard College chapter and Avi Gordon, the Executive Director of Alums for Campus Fairness sent a response to Provost Coatsworth and EVP Goldberg expressing the disappointment of the alumni with the University's failure to acknowledge and address the issue.
In part, the ACF's response states, "...your letter demonstrates a much larger problem than the specific statements of one professor: namely Columbia University administration’s indifference to anti-Semitic bigotry, unfair treatment of Jewish, Israeli and pro-Israel students, and indifference to our community’s concerns. Virulent anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism on campus are growing in notoriety and the administration’s failure to acknowledge and address them are adversely affecting the University’s prestige and the entire Columbia community, including us as Columbia alumni."
Yet again ACF stated a list of requests to be enacted by Columbia University administration:
Issue a formal, public statement unequivocally condemning Professor Dabashi’s anti-Semitic postings as antithetical to Columbia University’s liberal values;
Relieve Professor Dabashi of teaching responsibilities until he commits to ending his anti-Semitic rhetoric;
State unequivocally that Jewish, Israeli and pro-Israel students, for whom Zionism and the right of Jewish self-determination are core values, are as welcome at Columbia University as any other religious, ethnic or national minority;
Meet with the concerned representatives of alumni and faculty to engage in a dialogue on this critical issue.
ACF is awaiting Columbia University's explanation.