Alumni group calls on Columbia to discipline anti-Semitic prof

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A pro-Israel group is calling on Columbia University to discipline an Iranian Studies professor who has repeatedly posted anti-Semitic comments on social media.

The Alums for Campus Fairness-Columbia University (ACF) stated in a open letter to Columbia President Lee Bollinger that students, alumni, staff, faculty, and donors are deeply concerned by recent statements made by Columbia professor Hamid Dabashi, such as a recent tweet blaming Israel for “every dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world.”

“We are appalled by the anti-Semitic statements recently made by Professor Hamid Dabashi,” the ACF declared, noting that Dabashi has said that Jewish Americans are “opponents of the Iran Nuclear deal” and “diehard Fifth Column Zionists working against the best interests of Americans and for the best interests of Israelis.”

The letter also requested that Columbia consider taking ameliorative action by issuing a formal statement condemning Dabashi’s statements, affirming the school’s commitment to Jewish students, and meeting with concerned stakeholders to talk about how the campus environment can be improved.

In addition, the ACF asked Bollinger to relieve Dabashi of teaching responsibilities “until he commits to recognizing and ending his anti-Semitic rhetoric,” arguing that while he has the right to express his personal opinions on his own time, his comments have created “a hostile environment on campus” for Jewish students.

According to the ACF, Dabashi’s statements “echo the common anti-Semitic canards and meet the working definition of anti-Semitism that the State Department has been using for years.”

The group also refers to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which states that “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations” is a common form of anti-Semitism.

ACF Director Avi Gordon told Campus Reform that this is not a free speech issue, noting that the Columbia Students Supporting Israel chapter has made complaints about the professor creating a hostile environment for Pro-Israel and Jewish students in the past.

“While everyone certainly has the right to freedom of speech, Professor Dabashi is a teacher of higher education who emits anti-Semitic rhetoric,” Gordon explained. “Due to his anti-Semitic remarks, he is creating a hostile environment on campus for Jewish, Israeli, and pro-Israel students who should be entitled, like every other student, to a safe and welcoming learning environment.”

Similarly, Rena Nasar, the Tri-State Campus Director for the pro-Israel group StandWithUs, told Campus Reform in early May that “Columbia University should unequivocally condemn this hate coming from one of its faculty members.”

Columbia University did not respond to a request for comment from Campus Reform.

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