4/04/2005

Report rejects allegations of intimidation at Columbia

From the Boston Globe:
Columbia University's Middle Eastern studies professors did not engage in large-scale intimidation of pro-Israel students, but one angry professor exceeded ''commonly accepted bounds" of behavior in the classroom, a university report said yesterday. A five-member panel criticized Joseph Massad, a professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history, for implying that a student should leave his class after she defended Israel's conduct toward Palestinians...Massad did not immediately return a phone call from the AP. He has repeatedly denied allegations that he intimidated the student during a discussion of whether Palestinians might be targets of Israeli ''atrocities." The university has taken no action against him. Bollinger ordered the investigation after a group of students made a video alleging that Middle Eastern studies professors had harassed them. The video was funded by the David Project, a Boston-based pro-Israel group. The committee, appointed by the university, interviewed students, faculty members, administrators, and alumni, and received written statements from others. Some advocates of the students have criticized the committee's makeup, saying it included several faculty members who have expressed anti-Israel views...In a statement posted on Columbia's website in November, Massad said the student-made video ''is the latest salvo in a campaign of intimidation of Jewish and non-Jewish professors who criticize Israel." The strategy of some pro-Israel groups, the professor said, is one ''that equates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism." The committee said it found no evidence that professors had made anti-Semitic remarks to Jewish students. Bollinger said this was never the issue; ''this was about intimidation."

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