Hamid Dabashi affair synopsis

Updated: May 26, 2020

According to his lengthy Canary Mission profile, Hamid Dabashi, the perennial anti-Semitic Columbia University professor and a virulent critic of Israel has had a long and sordid history of pedaling anti-Israel conspiracy theories, demonizing Israel, comparing Israelis to Nazis, supporting violent protests, promoting the anti-Semitic BDS movement. Dabashi's hatred of Israel is not limited to what might have arguably been legitimate criticisms of specific Israeli policies. Dabashi paints with a much broader brush. According to Dabashi, "Zionists" are the fifth column traitors in the US, controlling all levers of power and inciting the US to start needless Middle East wars. It is no wonder that a respected historian Daniel Pipes refered to Dabashi as "Columbia University's Hysterical Professor."

Dabashi's statements, while wrapped in the lingo of anti-Israelism, are clearly anti-Semitic. Back in 2004 Dabashi wrote in Egyptian Al-Ahram Weekly that Israelis exhibit "a vulgarity of character that is bone-deep and structural to the skeletal vertebrae of [their] culture." This is hardly a legitimate criticism of Israeli policies. Dabashi's careful use of "Zionists" instead of "Jews" fools no one. As Martin Luther King Jr. reportedly explained, "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism." Furthermore, Dabashi's broad conspiracy theories and blaming "laughing hyaenas -- the Zionists" for "Every dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world", as he did in his May 8, 2018 posts on social media, clearly crosses into anti-Semitic territory based on every widely accepted definition of the contemporary anti-Semitism such as Natan Sharansky's 3D Test of Anti-Semitism and the International Holocaust Remembrance Foundation's (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism adopted by UK, Germany and which forms the basis of the US State Department's definition of anti-Semitism.

Back in 2008, Dabashi enlightened everyone that it was "American Zionist cabal" that controlled the levers of power. Ever since his anti-Semitism continued unabated and unchecked by the Columbia University's administration.

Concerns regarding anti-Semitism of a specific professor have transformed into a greater concern regarding systemic anti-Semitism and institutional tolerance of it at Columbia University.

As we had documented here (see our blog posts starting with this one and follow the NEXT links to the successive posts) on May 29th, 2018 Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF), an organization comprised mostly of alumni, parents and grandparents of college students wrote an open letter to Columbia University's administration alerting them to the latest (May 8, 2018) Dabashi social media posts blaming Israel for all the ills in the world. The letter was co-signed by 40+ faculty members and a number of other well-respected organizations such as Simon Wiesenthal Center, The Lawfare Project, Zionist Organization of America and Scholars for Middle East Peace.

Most disturbing however, are not the anti-Semitic expressions of a particular professor. Rather, it is Columbia University administration's refusal to unequivocally condemn professor Dabashi's anti-Semitic statements despite multiple requests. While condemning anti-Semitism in vague general terms, Columbia University administration refuses to condemn specific anti-Semites in its midst rendering the generic condemnation disingenuous and meaningless. This tolerance of anti-Semitic behavior enables and encourages anti-Semites.

Concerns regarding anti-Semitism of a specific professor have transformed into a greater concern regarding systemic anti-Semitism and institutional tolerance of it at Columbia University.

A recent petition was created by StopAntiSemitism.org demanding condemnation of anti-Semitic activity at Columbia and calling on the university to reveal sources of foreign funds. As of this writing the petition, launched a few days ago, gathered over 5,300 signatures.

In this blog post we summarize the history of interactions with Columbia University's administration and the administration's continual deflection and refusal to clearly and specifically state that Columbia University finds anti-Semitic posts by Hamid Dabashi contemptible.

We will continue to update this post with the details of Columbia University's tolerance of anti-Semitism, which they would not tolerate similar statements directed at any other ethnic, religious or marginalized group.

Here is the history of interactions with Columbia University regarding Hamid Dabashi's anti-Semitism:

May 8, 2018

Hamid Dabashi's latest anti-Semitic posts on social media are identified.

See: Columbia University professor Hamid Dabashi publishes anti-Semitic diatribe on social media

May 29, 2018

ACF together writes an open letter to Columbia University's administration asking the university to condemn anti-Semitic posts by Hamid Dabashi. The letter is signed by multiple organizations, 40+ Columbia University faculty members, and 300+ alumni, parents and members of community.

See: ACF asks Columbia administration to condemn Professor Dabashi's anti-Semitic diatribe

June 17, 2018

Columbia University administration responds to ACF's open letter with a PR-style boilerplate bromides, deflecting any responsibility by citing a 10-year old effort by President Bollinger against BDS and the presence of Hillel and association with Jewish Theological Seminary. The administration sites freedom of expression as the reason the university declines to condemn the vile anti-Semitic statements by Dabashi

See: Columbia University administration fails to address Hamid Dabashi's anti-Semitism

July 9, 2018

ACF send a detailed responds to Columbia Administration's explaining that: (a) anti-Semitism needs to be fought when it happen, not by an action that happened 10 years ago, (b) that Hillel and JTS do not absolve the administration from the responsibility to ensure welcoming environment free from bigotry to all students, including Jewish, Israeli and pro-Israel ones. ACF restates that the answer is disappointing and unsatisfactory and calls again on the university to condemn anti-Semitic statements and do the right thing

See: ACF replies to the administration's inadequate response to Hamid Dabashi's anti-Semitism