Joseph Massad: The Sequel?

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As one commenter pointed out, this week’s New York Magazine Daily Intelligencer section features a short piece that references an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that speculates that Joseph Massad might be up for a second round of tenure review. Both the New York piece and the Chronicle piece have no on-the-record information to indicate such, though Columbia PR director cryptically explained that “it is consistent with our review process that cases sometimes extend beyond a single academic year or committee.” In addition, the Chronicle piece quotes Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, as saying “that while it is ‘highly unusual’ for a university to establish a second ad hoc review committee, ‘it seems to me a good thing in this case, if questions have been raised about the decision making.'”

According to the Chronicle article — which is only able to be read with a subscription but was luckily forwarded to Bwog in full by tipster David Judd — “[Alan Brinkley’s] decision [to deny Massad tenure] followed what professors describe as a narrow [3-2] vote in favor of Mr. Massad by an ad hoc committee of five scholars who judged his tenure file. When the provost subsequently rejected the bid, professors say, the decision prompted an angry letter from senior faculty members at Columbia who support Mr. Massad. They apparently have persuaded the provost to reconsider the case and give the professor the unusual opportunity of a second chance at tenure at Columbia.”

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  1. Little Liverbird

    Not THIS again...

  2. Or should I say...

    The SEQuel???

  3. AIPACman

    Haha, the vast Israeli Lobby conspiracy strikes again! Prepare for the return of The David Project!

  4. any columbia student

    can access the article through lexis-nexis

  5. hmmm...

    This is coming from a guy who dislikes Massas on a personal level so deeply that I cannot stand to even be in the same room with his high-handed, bloated ego. That being said, the man has written some damn good books and probably does deserve a fair shake at tenure. Of course...a lot of profs who deserve tenure don't get it. I'm thinking of three at Columbia recently...5 points if you can guess them.

  6. What a travesty  

    that this man is getting a second shot at tenure. Giving him the Trilling was purely a political move. This is an academic so fully wrapped up in Said-ian thought that he serves up apologetics for the scandalous crimes of the Egyptian government against gays. This is the professor implicated in a scandal of violating academic freedom -- so much so that he had to hide out for a year. This is a man with a supremely off-putting ego.

    It is certainly no wonder that MEALAC (and many other areas of the humanities) are in the toilet. When Columbia gets its head out of its proverbial ass, it might realize that it employs a bunch of hacks in place of true scholars.

  7. CU Librarian  

    "According to the Chronicle article -- which is only able to be read with a subscription but was luckily forwarded to Bwog in full by tipster David Judd --"

    Columbia has a subscription to the online Chronicle, look it up in CLIO, or use this link to connect: http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?AUF6033

  8. Eric Zarahn

    Joseph Massad has made his Columbia career based on the assertion that Israel is "a racist state". This, while the Arabs have en masse pledged to destroy Israel because it is a non-Arab, Jewish homeland. And this also while he ignores that the Arab nations are racist within their borders, having expelled Jews, preventing Israelis from visiting there, producing and internationally disseminating genocidal propaganda materials (like the "Protocols of Zion" and "Mein Kampf" along with countless sermons, pamphlets, and symposia), and often having the racial designation "Arab" in their country names. He also rarely discusses the history of the Arab treatment of the Jewish people. Is it not amazing that to Massad the 1948 War, in which the Arabs tried their best (at the time) to slaughter all the Israelis in their tiny new state, is deemed irrelevant? How has he been able to spit on truth so unabashedly? If he gets tenure, then we know that racism and historical revisionism is condoned, nurtured, and rewarded by Columbia.

    • David


      I'm a little confused by your argument. Are you suggesting that the undeniable fact that Arab states are racist somehow proves that Israel is not herself racist? How does that follow?

      Or are you suggesting that Massad (a Palestinian-American, after all) is racist for concentrating on Israeli racism to the exclusion of Arab racism? Are Jewish-American academics equally racist if they concentrate their fire on Arab racism to the exclusion of Israeli, or does this only work in one direction?

  9. .........

    Clearly, it was his stellar scholarship that propelled Columbia to give him a second tenure review. Politics had nothing to do with it... After all, not one of the countless of professors that have been denied tenure before could even approach this man's academic greatness.

  10. Matt

    A broad cross section of Massad’s academic works:


    As you can see, this is somebody whose intellectual mentors on subjects like the Middle East and the Holocaust include “academic giants” like Paul Findley, Lenni Brenner, and Norman Finkelstein. That Massad would even cite such non-accredited fringe individuals in academic journal articles boggles the mind. That he would opine about subjects about which he has no understanding (like the Talmud) is stunning. And his use of inflammatory but fraudulent quotations of certain prime ministers (and his refusal even to correct the record explicitly) belies his claims of academic professionalism.

    The fact that anyone is seriously even considering granting Massad a tenure position at an Ivy League university is almost too absurd to imagine, and is clearly a function of ideological politics. And yet people are suggesting with a straight face that he is being _denied_ tenure because of politics? Absurd. Has anyone considered the possibility that Massad is just a second-rate, ideological, academic wannabe who is only where he is right now because of academic back-scratching and because his views happen to be in vogue these days?

    And this is how he behaves _before_ getting tenure. Anyone wish to imagine what a headache he’d be for the university _after_ getting tenure?

    • David

      In the site you link to, Matt, Finkelstein is only "cited" in the context of Massad favorably reviewing his book. The idea that everyone whose book I favorably review becomes my "intellectual mentor" is crazy; and if he is invited to review his book in an academic journal, obviously it is acceptable to cite him in that academic journal article.

      Findley is cited once, in the context of alleged influences of the so-called "Israel lobby" on Congress. Since Findley is a former congressman, his evidence is perfectly reasonable for Massad to cite, and it does not make him Massad's "intellectual mentor".

      None of this is to say that Massad should get tenure, but having seen the poverty of your argument against him I am more inclined in his favor than I was previously.

  11. Matt

    Massad learned what he knows about the Israel lobby in large part from Paul Findley's book from the 1980s, a perfectly adequate definition of intellectual mentorship. Ditto for Brenner regarding alleged "collaboration" between Zionism and Nazism, whose books from the 1980s Massad repeatedly cites in several papers as his main source on the subject, calling the books "classics". Neither of these individuals are academically accredited in any way, and they are both way out on the fringes of contemporary discourse. This is poor academic professionalism on his part.

    It was probably incorrect to lump Finkelstein in their with Massad's intellectual mentors. I must say, however, that when Massad criticizes Finkelstein in his paper "Deconstructing Holocaust Consciousness" for being _too_ Zionist, that tells you something.

  12. Matt

    Nor, David, have you addressed any of the other points I brought up or that emerge from the Wikiquote page. His charges that the majority of Jews in the world are guilty of "Jewish supremacism", his ignorant statements about the Talmud or about American Jewish culture not existing in anything beyond name, his willingness to use inflammatory quotations of questionable veracity that he would later quietly remove without comment when he discovered they were fraudulent, among many other things. None of this is an attack on his ideology per se, but on his methods and professionalism.

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