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

July 24, 2018

Executive Vice President for University Life Suzanne Goldberg replied on behalf of Columbia University's administration with a perfunctory one-liner email.

July 31, 2018

ACF sends another letter to Columbia administration hoping that they will condemn not only anti-Semitism but also anti-Semitic expression emanating from their faculty and professorial anti-Semites in their midst.

See: Dabashi Affair, Round 3: Columbia administration abhors anti-Semitism but not anti-Semites

April 8, 2019 - June 4, 2019

Columbia University professor Dr. Paul A. Kurlansky complains to the administration about Professor Hamid Dabashi's hateful rhetoric and about the failure of the administration to provide an adequate response.

See: Hamid Dabashi Affair, Round 4: Columbia U administration brushed aside a faculty complaint

March 30, 2020

Professor Hamid Dabasih publishes a tweet comparing Israel to ISIS.

See: Professor Hamid Dabashi Struggles to Distinguish Israel from ISIS

April 8, 2020

Hamid Dabashi publishes a Facebook rant warning against Kushner and Zionist takeover of the Trump administration when Bernie Sanders quits his presidential race.

See: Hamid Dabashi Proves Bollinger Wrong!

To be continued...

Relevant Press Coverage

  1. "Columbia’s Own Middle East War", New York Magazine, 2004

  2. "VILE WORDS OF HATE THAT SHAME TOP UNIVERSITY Daily News Special Report on Anti-Semitism Charges at New York's Most Prestigious Seat of Learning" by Douglas Feiden, Daily News, November 21, 2004

  3. "Columbia University Professor Popular in Germany for Hating Israel, Downplaying Holocaust" by Clemens Heni, The Algemeiner, December 18, 2015

  4. "Columbia Professor Criticized for Anti-Semitic Facebook Posts" by Rachel Frommer, The Washington Free Beacon, November 14, 2017

  5. "Columbia University Professor Blames Israel for ‘Every Dirty, Treacherous Act Happening in the World,’ Claims Iran Nuke Deal Opposed by ‘Fifth Column Zionists’" by Shiri Moshe, The Algemeiner, May 9, 2018

  6. "UGLY: Columbia University Prof Says Every Treacherous And Evil Act Comes From Israel" by Hank Berrien, Daily Wire, May 10, 2018

  7. "Columbia professor under fire for blaming Israel for every problem 'in the world'" by Caleb Parke, Fox News, May 11, 2018

  8. "Coalition of Columbia Professors, Alumni, Students Urge University to Discipline ‘Antisemitic’ Professor Who Blasted ‘Fifth Column Zionists’" by Shiri Moshe, The Algemeiner, May 30, 2018

  9. "Columbia Professor Under Fire for Referring to Zionists As ‘Hyenas’" by Aaron Bandler, The Jewish Journal, May 31, 2018

  10. "Columbia Professor Urged to Step Down After Blaming Israel for ‘Every Dirty’ Act in World" by Deborah Danan, Breitbard, June 2, 2018

  11. "Columbia Professor Needs To Be Reprimanded" by Sheldon Kirshner, Sheldon Kirshner Journal, June 6, 2018

  12. "Yet more anti-Semitism at Columbia University", Useful Stooges, June 14, 2018

  13. "COLUMBIA PROFESSOR PROVOKES CONTROVERSY WITH ANTI-SEMITIC STATEMENTS" by Hannah Stanhill, The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law

  14. "Alumni Group Knocks Columbia University for ‘Disappointing’ Response to Professor Who Blamed Israel for ‘Every Dirty Act in the World’" by Algemeiner Staff, The Algemeiner, July 10, 2018

  15. "To pressure colleges into combating anti-Semitism, alumni become activists" by Cathryn J. Prince, The Times of Israel, July 11, 2018

  16. "Columbia U Slammed for Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic Faculty" by United with Israel Staff, United with Israel, July 26, 2018

  17. "Thousands Sign Petition Calling for Columbia to Remove Anti-Zionist Professors" by Aaron Bandler, Jewish Journal, July 27, 2018

Additional references regarding Hamid Dabashi

  1. Hamid Dabashi's Canary Mission profile.

  2. "The mayhem in Yemen and the crisis of meaning in the Arab World" by Hamid Dabashi, Al Jazeera, July 24, 2018

  3. "[Hamid Dabashi:] Columbia University's Hysterical Professor" by Daniel Pipes, Middle East Forum, December 1, 2004

  4. "For a Fistful of Dust: A Passage to Palestine" by Hamid Dabashi, Al-Ahram Weekly, 2004

  5. Hamid Dabashi's Facebook post where he calls Zionists "laughing hyaenas.", May 8, 2018

  6. Hamid Dabashi's Facebook post where he says the following: "Every dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world just wait for a few days and the ugly name of 'Israel' will pop up as a key actor in the atrocities— New York Times reports opponents of the Iran Nuclear deal (who else other than diehard Fifth Column Zionists working against the best interests of Americans and for the best interests of Israelis) were plotting to discredit those who were working to implement the deal...", May 8, 2018

  7. "Obama's Palestinian problem" by Hamid Dabashi where he says that there is an "American Zionist cabal", 2008

  8. "How the Zionists won the body but lost the soul of US politics" by Hamid Dabashi, Al Jazeera, Mar. 6, 2018 where he says, "The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Israeli Fifth Column in the United States" and "Zionists rule this country [the United States]."

  9. "Columbia Professor Calls Zionists ‘Master Thieves’ in Facebook Post" by Aaron Bandler, The Jewish Journal, February 8, 2018

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