Apparently, a terrible contagion of anti-Semitism (or is it anti-Zionism? aw, I guess they’re one and the same, right?) is gripping New York City. It all started on the campus of Columbia University where a few Jewish students spied the anti-Semitic micro-organism in a classroom during a lecture being delivered by Professor Joseph Massad. Masaad teaches in that infamous Columbia cauldron of anti-Semitism called the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures. The students reported their findings to one of the world’s great anti-Semitism epidemiologists, Charles Jacobs, "MD". And Jacobs put out the word to anyone who’d listen through his documentary film, Columbia Unbecoming.
[For full and complete disclosure: I am a Columbia alumnus, BA General Studies ’75]
The New York Shmate:
finding anti-Semites everywhere
Well, I regret to say that the contagion has spread farther through the streets of New York. But thanks to the untiring efforts of those media experts in ferreting-out-anti-Semitism-wherever-it may-lurk, the New York Sun, the scourge may’ve been stopped in its tracks. The Sun, however, was no longer interested in the relatively small-fry Prof. Massad. It set its sights higher up the anti-Semitism microbial food chain–on Professor Rashid Khalidi. Before he became infested with anti-Semitism, Prof. Khalidi was known as one of the most distinguished Middle East experts in this country. But there was a fatal weakness in Prof. Khalidi’s defenses against anti-Semitism: he holds the Edward Said Chair at Columbia and everyone knows that before the unfortunate Prof. Said passed away he too was infested with the anti-Semitism virus. In fact, Edward Said might’ve been the "Typhoid Mary" of anti-Semites, a genuine spawner of anti-Semites. Where are the Ghost Busters when you really need ’em?
So it makes perfect sense, when you think about it (and the Sun has definitely thought deeply on the subject) that the disease would’ve spread to his successor, Dr. Khalidi. The Sun musters utterly convincing evidence of Khalidi’s malady:
A Columbia University professor [Khalidi] has called Israel a "racist" state
with an "apartheid system," and has supported attacks by
Palestinian-Arabs on Israelis…
Let’s examine the evidence a bit more microscopically. Here is what Khalid actually says about the use of the term "racist" in relation to Israel:
"I do not think Zionism is racist. When we talk about some of [Israel’s] contemporary laws, there are policies that I consider racist and
But of course, the Sun doesn’t believe in nuance when a sledghammer will do. While Khalidi may have called Israel an "apartheid state" so have many others including people who would call themselves Zionist or supporters of the state of Israel. Myself, I would probably tone down the rhetoric a bit and not use such incendiary terms as "racist" or "apartheid," but basically Kahlidi’s terms aren’t that far from the truth. As for his supposed statement supporting attacks by Palestinians on Israelis, where’s the proof? In a 2002 article "welcoming" Khalidi’s arrival at Columbia, the Sun unearthed an audio relic of Khalidi claiming that:
…Killing [Israeli] civilians is a war crime. It’s a
violation of international law.They are not soldiers. They’re
civilians, they’re unarmed. The ones [Israelis] who are armed, the ones who are
soldiers, the ones who are in occupation, that’s different.That’s
So we see the Sun deliberately mischaracterizing Khalidi’s statement by claiming he endorses attacking "Israelis" when he really said that attacking Israeli civilians was a "war crime" while adding that attacks against the military were a legitimate form of resistance. Even more importantly, what does Khalidi believe now?
As for the current situation in Israel, “I
would say it would be wise to show restraint because there is a
political process under way,” he said.
So the anti-Semitism busters attack Khalidi for views he no longer holds. Sounds like a tactic Joe McCarthy would’ve admired. But McCarthyism in the pursuit of anti-Semitism is no vice, right?
In this article, another thing that really bugs the Sun anti-Semitism hunters is the fact that Rita Hauser, a distinguished national Jewish leader, was a lead donor in funding Columbia’s Said Chair (which Khalidi holds). Moreover, she spoke warmly of Said as “a friend of mine. I admire him.” Imagine the sheer chutzpah. A Jew who publicly admits she likes an anti-Semite!!
We should point out that one of the Sun’s founders was right wing attack dog, Conrad Black. Could it be that Black wants the Sun to do to New York City public discourse what he’s done to the coffers of Hollinger International (that is, loot it of all reason and civility)?
New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein has caught the anti-Semitism bug as well. After reading the Sun’s article, which made a point of disclosing Khalidi’s teaching role in a New York City schools teacher’s seminar designed to help teachers teach about the Mideast in the public schools, Klein immediately "fired" Khalidi. Phew! Imagine if he hadn’t done that. How many of our good teachers would’ve been infected with the anti-Semitism contagion?
But given the Sun’s abysmal distortions in its battle against Khalid, maybe this anti-Semitic scourge is being overblown in that bubbling cauldron of Jewish politics called New York City? I’d say so. Just listen to some of filthy hateful things being said about Khalidi by some of my fellow Jews:
Martin Kramer, a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East
Policy, and an outspoken critic of Professor Khalidi’s intellectual
forebear, Edward Said, sees Khalidi’s potential departure as a positive
step: "If Khalidi abandons the Edward Said chair, it’ll mean that
Columbia is no longer a Saidian safe house. That’s a revolution. And
while Khalidi may not be the source of Columbia’s fever, it’ll be
easier to treat it without him."
"Saidian safe house." That phrase has a nice ring to it–likening Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi’s academic "home" at Columbia to some kind of Taliban safe house where apparently the former are free to spew their anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist venom. And in the anti-Semitic miasma enveloping Kramer, Khalidi again becomes a microbe causing a "fever" in the body politic. The way to "treat" it? Of course, lance that boil and let all the hateful puss drain out.
The Forward quotes other Jewish leaders who’ve spoken out against Khalidi but who don’t seem to know what it is that they don’t like about him:
When asked what statements of Khalidi’s had been problematic, David
Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, declined
to point to any specific statements and said that the problem was
"where he stands on Arab-Israeli issues."
Wimp out, Mr. Harris! I should think you could do better than that. And Anthony Weiner, New York mayoral candidate who’s been braying for the heads of Massad and Khalidi:
when asked to identify objectionable statements, said, "I am by
no means an expert on the guy’s work, but what I have seen anecdotally
on the guy is troubling.
I’m absolutely disgusted by all these delusions of anti-Semitism. They’re fueled by a terribly nasty strain of pro-Israel New York Jewish politics that sees enemies of the Jewish people everywhere and sees friends nowhere. It is the worst type of paranoia and must be fought tooth and nail. Just as Christian evangelicals are overwhelming our political discourse in this country, delusional pro-Israel Jews are overwhelming the Israel-related discourse in the city of my birth. It makes me ashamed and embarrassed for my native city.
Now, Princeton’s Jewish alumni are taking up the cudgels against Khalidi’s possible appointment to an academic chair there. Will the hysteria never cease?
We ought to reopen our copies of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and learn a historical lesson or two about what witch hunts can do once they’re let loose on society.