Nearly 250 alumni, students, faculty, and community members called on Columbia University on Tuesday to discipline a professor accused of making antisemitic comments.
Hamid Dabashi, who teaches Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at the New York school, drew criticism earlier this month after he claimed Israel is behind “[e]very dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world.”
In a post shared on his Facebook page — which as of Wednesday was no longer publicly available — Dabashi also lambasted “opponents of the Iran Nuclear deal” as “diehard Fifth Column Zionists.”
The professor’s remarks — reminiscent of rhetoric used by former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke, who in 2012 railed against the efforts of a “Zionist fifth column” in America to attack Iran — were denounced by a coalition of Columbia and Barnard College affiliates, as well as donors and other concerned citizens. They were joined by officials from national Jewish and Zionist groups, including StandWithUs, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Zionist Organization of America, and Students Supporting Israel.
“Professor Dabashi’s statements echo common anti-Semitic canards and meet the working definition of anti-Semitism that the State Department has been using for years,” the signatories wrote in an open letter to Columbia President Lee Bollinger and the school’s Board of Trustees.
They pointed to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by the US and 30 other member states, and includes “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.”
Dabashi’s comments — compounded with his history of “depictingIsraelis as Nazis, comparing Israel to ISIS, [and] accusing Israel of genocide” — “promote a hostile environment on campuses for pro-Israel and Jewish students,” they warned.
“Relieve Professor Dabashi of teaching responsibilities until he commits to recognizing and ending his anti-Semitic rhetoric,” the coalition urged Bollinger and the Trustees.
While affirming Dabashi’s right to espouse “his personal opinions on his own time,” they argued that the professor should not be allowed “to create a hostile environment on campus for Jewish, Israeli and pro-Israel students.”
Read More: Algemeiner