by Mark A. Bruzonsky*
"What is happening at the moment at Columbia University and to
Professor Rashid Khalidi and others, for instance, is but a small
visible part of a sordid stinking contemporary witch-hunt political
iceberg. It is wrong; it is grossly unfair; it is frighteningly untruthful;
if not halted it will continue to grow and spread and the stains and
stench of this modern-day McCarthism will expand with ever-more
intimidation and repression... Where are those individually and
collectively who have the courage and the dignity to cry foul and
raise the real banners of true liberty, defense of the crucial First
Amendment, and real democracy...not to mention truthfulness?"
MIDDLEEAST.ORG - MER - Washington - 25 February: American Jews especially of the baby-boomer age can remember well the warnings from their parents. With reference to what had happened in Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe expressions like 'the Good Germans' took on a special meaning for this generation. "Always remember what happened and don't ever let that happen again -- never let that happen again -- don't ever become like 'the Good Germans' ."
"First they came for the homeless and destitute, then they came for the homosexuals and the Gypsies, then they came for the Jews and then for any who still were friends of the Jews, then they came for those of 'their own' who dare criticize the regime, then they came for those who tried oppose the SS and the concentration/death camps, and by then there was no one left to oppose them or to even try to stop them from doing what they did."
These warnings and remembrances come from the Europe of old -- but actually days not that long ago as there are still persons alive today who can speak first-hand to the attrocities of that nightmarish yesteryear.
Shortly after the World War ended the Cold War began and shortly after that came the days now known for Senator Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin. In the U.S. it wasn't the Gestapo and concentration camps for its's own but rather relentless badgering, intimidation, ostracism, blacklisting, firings and the FBI of J. Edgar Hoover. From Hollywood to Universities eveyone was severely pressured to comply or else. One so famous as Lucille Ball was forced to meekly appologize for membership in organizations and relent from any further involvement in politics or be pushed under; she accepted the 'realities' of the moment and went on to be the famous comedian we all came to know. Many others stood their ground with principle and attempted dignity; and their names are not known today to mention.
Today's blacklisting and intimidation does not have origins in official government Washington powered by the FBI and 'legitimized' by hearings in the U.S. Congress. It does not stem from the Cold War and the blindingly misguided unchecked 'patriotism' of that era.
Today's blacklisting and intimidation has its origins from what is known as the Israeli-Jewish Lobby and is spun from an amalgum of dozens of pressure-group organizations which it coordinates. It stems originally from the Arab-Israeli conflict which then metasticized into today's official 'War on Terrorism' and unofficial War Against Islam as well as on all who seriously oppose U.S., U.K., and Israeli neo-imperialistic and racist policies.
What is happening at the moment at Columbia University and to Professor Rashid Khalidi and others, for instance, is but a small visible part of a sordid stinking contemporary witch-hunt political iceberg. It is wrong; it is grossly unfair; it is frighteningly untruthful; if not halted it will continue to grow and spread and the stains and stench of this modern-day McCarthism will expand with ever-more intimidation and repression.
Professor Rashid Khalidi is not the best symbol for what is happening. First of all he himself has played the careful political game in the U.S. for decades now and his own future at one institution or another is quite secure. He came from the well-known conservative University of Chicago to Columbia after various connections with such semi-official Washington Institutes as the Woodrow Wilson Center at the Smithsonian. When there was no one else acceptible to fill the slot Edward Said had held so courageously at Columbia for so many years Khalidi got it. While far more outspoken and respected and courageous Palestinian or Arab academics could have been selected, Khalidi was chosen precisely because he had tried hard to ingratiate himself into the politically-correct American system, nearly always pulled his punches, always deferred to power and authority, and Columbia officials probably thought he was a safe if not very charismatic or truly distinguished choice. But then filling Edward Said's shoes was never really going to be possible anyway.
Khalidi is one of those mildly right-wing upper-class Arab academics who have long associated themselves with the conservative and self-serving Arab as well as U.S. establishments, including of late his associations with such types as Ziad Asali and what is called the American Task Force on Palestine, an compliant opportunist group if ever there was one super busy lining their own pockets on the tears and misery of their own Palestinian people. For a long time now Khalidi has failed to seriously speak and act up for others far more pressured than himself and far less able to defend themselves. He has always been extra busy feathering his own nest and protecting his own interests; but now they are beginning to come for him a little bit and he is crying out for support.
And that may in fact explain why Khalidi and Columbia are being targeted. They went for Edward Said years ago but he was already too established and too brilliant, in addition to the far more open and less fearful times. By now going after such formerly safe targets the basic goals of fear and intimidation can most easily and quickly be spread down the ranks far and wide.
What is happening at Columbia University is part of an organized Israeli-Jewish conspiracy (yes the word is used purposefully) to 'take back the campuses'. The origins are in Israel and the worldwide Zionist movement which is particularly strong and powerful in the U.S. The players are primarily those dozens of American Jewish organizations which all together make up the extended Israeli-Jewish lobby. More publicly these groups are organized into the Presidents Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations and Jewish Community Relations Councils in key cities throughout the country. But most of what is done takes place very much behind-the-scenes and through a carefully coordinated campaign. The Israeli Embassy and Israeli officials are very much involved however much they continually deny it; as are many far-less known Jewish pressure organizations beyond AIPAC, JINSA, ADL, AJC, as well as the Near East Institute and the Brookings Saban Center.
The new fear and repression clock is ticking louder than it has for a long time now, for they are already coming not only for the vulnerable and defenseless. Now if you are not 'with them' they are already planning to come for one and all who are 'against them' -- they are determined to control information and ideas as much as they do weapons and money.
So where are todays Edward R. Murrows, where are todays courageous journalists and intellectuals when we need them? In this particular case when is the President of Columbia University going to stop pussy footing around and rise to the challenge that it is now his responsibility to confront? And where are those individually and collectively far and wide who have the courage and the dignity to cry foul and raise the real banners of true liberty, defense of the crucial First Amendment, and real democracy...not to mention honestly and truthfulness?
Columbia U. Professor, Criticized for Views on Israel, Is Banned From Teacher-Training Program
By Brock Read
The Chronicle of Higher Education - 22 February 2005: The New York City Department of Education will prohibit a professor of Arab studies at Columbia University from appearing in an occasional training program for secondary-school teachers, citing the professor's criticism of Israel.
Rashid Khalidi, director of Columbia's Middle East Institute, had spoken this month at one of a series of teacher-development workshops, paid for by the university, about Middle Eastern culture and politics. But last week, after The New York Sun published an article assailing Mr. Khalidi's involvement in the program, Joel I. Klein, the city's schools chancellor, announced that the professor would no longer be allowed to participate.
"Considering his past statements, Rashid Khalidi should not have been included in a program that provided professional development for DOE teachers, and he won't be participating in the future," Jerry Russo, Mr. Klein's press secretary, wrote in an e-mail message to the Sun.
In the past year Mr. Khalidi has participated in two training sessions. Neither generated any controversy.
But Columbia's Middle East Institute has come under heavy fire from
politicians and newspapers like the Sun, which have accused the
program of promoting pro-Palestinian views, disparaging Israel, and
intimidating pro-Israel students.
Last fall Anthony Wiener, a Democratic member of Congress who is now
running for mayor of New York, urged Columbia to fire a colleague of
Mr. Khalidi's -- Joseph A. Massad, a professor of Arab politics --
for his purportedly heated attacks on Israel. The criticism was
alleged to have taken place in class, where Mr. Massad was said to
have badgered students (The Chronicle, November 5, 2004).
Mr. Khalidi, in an interview on Monday, criticized Mr. Wiener and
the Sun for attacking his institute and the field of Arab studies in
general. "I think there's a broad attack on professors of the Middle
East, and it's based on calumnies, innuendo, and taking situations
out of context," he said.
Mr. Khalidi also blamed the Columbia administration's "supine"
response to the controversy, which, he said, has emboldened the
In the wake of the allegations about the Middle East Institute, the
university established a committee to look into claims that students
were intimidated in class. Hundreds of people, mostly college
faculty members, have signed a petition urging Lee C. Bollinger,
Columbia's president, to defend Mr. Massad and to condemn the
accusations leveled at the Middle East Institute.
Mr. Khalidi was among the petition's signers. "The sooner there's an
organized response to these people who have absolutely no scruples
about twisting the truth, the better," he said.
Columbia officials have not officially commented on the city
schools' decision to ban Mr. Khalidi from the training program. In a
statement released after the Middle East Institute came under fire
last fall, Mr. Bollinger pledged to uphold the university's policy
on freedom of expression but added, "We believe that the principle
of academic freedom is not unlimited."
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