Joseph Massad Can Relax

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In April, we reported that rumors both on campus and in print were suggesting that Professor Joseph Massad would soon be granted tenure. Now, everyone’s favorite tabloid/monitor-of-all-Columbia-controversies, the New York Post, reports (via HuffPo) that Massad has been granted tenure.  In an article neutrally-entitled “Columbia Tenures An Israel Basher,” columnist Jacob Gershman writes that Columbia “officially — if quietly — awarded Massad tenure earlier this month.”

Gershman then runs through the many controversies that Massad has been involved in in his time in Morningside, before adding two new plot points. First, he calls Dean of Arts and Sciences Nicholas Dirks a “key ally” for Massad in getting an uncommon–though not unheard of–second tenure review. Second, Gershman alleges that “President Lee Bollinger and Provost Alan Brinkley took extraordinary measures to protect the secrecy of Massad’s tenure case and guard against an outcry from Jewish alumni and donors,” including shielding the names of tenure committee members from the Board of Trustees.

University spokesman Robert Hornsby did not comment to Bwog, citing the “longstanding policy” of no comment on tenure cases. While no complaints at the faculty level have made their way back to Bwog’s ears (yet), several MEALAC students told Bwog in April that, contrary to Massad’s first tenure review, far fewer details were leaking about the tenure process, and there appear to be fewer leaks to the media as well. Whatever makes the faculty happy.


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  1. way to go

    Good for Columbia. I'm of Jewish Israeli decent and I completely support this.

    It's nice when we can give equal treatment to people of differing views.

    • murr

      Well I'm of Massad decent and I un-support this.

    • yes  

      Spelling aside, I agree. It's rather un-academic to censor someone for their views, especially when their views are not uncommon.

      (Note: I'm not endorsing his views. I'm just saying that there exist many people who agree with him.)

      • Massad Student

        This isn't about academic freedom. Massad is an activist, and spends a great deal of his activist speeches not sharing knowledge but mocking and using sophistry. For example, he frequently mocks Israelis "for being the unwanted spokesmen for Jews", and other ridiculous assertions distinguishing Zionists from American Jews which he obsesses with. Doesn't seem too scholarly to me.

        • Alum

          Plenty of profs at CU (and elsewhere) are activists. Some of them are activists in support of causes you like, while others support causes you dislike. Either way, their activism is not part of their scholarship and is not expected to be. That Massad's activism doesn't seem scholarly to you is beside the point.

          Professors are entitled to pursue whatever legal activities they want when they're off duty. Some choose to pursue political activism. Those activities should play no part in the decisions about their tenure, promotions, etc.

          • massad student

            of course i don't agree with him, but your ad hominem argument aside, the positions that he takes are really absurd and illogical.

            the statement that i quoted, an example, may not be true of all zionists and american jews, but for massad to dwell on this for the point of drawing jeers and laughs from the crowd is a bit ridiculous.

            the man settled a libel suit last year. he claims that "All those in the Arab world who deny the Jewish holocaust are in my opinion Zionists" (Al Ahram Weekly). if thats not crazy, its strange.

          • er....

            "While holocaust denial in the West is indeed one of the strongest manifestations of anti-Semitism, most Arabs who deny the holocaust deny it for political not racist reasons. This point is even conceded by the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim Orientalist Bernard Lewis. Their denial is based on the false Zionist claim that the holocaust justifies Zionist colonialism. The Zionist claim is as follows: Since Jews were the victims of the holocaust, then they have the right to colonise Palestine and establish a Jewish colonial-settler state there. Those Arabs who deny the holocaust accept the Zionist logic as correct. Since these deniers reject the right of Zionists to colonise Palestine, the only argument left to them is to deny that the holocaust ever took place, which, to their thinking, robs Zionism of its allegedly "moral" argument. But the fact that Jews were massacred does not give Zionists the right to steal someone else's homeland and to massacre the Palestinian people. The oppression of a people does not endow it with rights to oppress others. If those Arab deniers refuse to accept the criminal Zionist logic that justifies the murder and oppression of the Palestinians by appealing to the holocaust, then these deniers would no longer need to make such spurious arguments. All those in the Arab world who deny the Jewish holocaust are in my opinion Zionists."

            Make sense now?

          • oh, and by the way

            For those not following along close enough, considering the spin and distortion of Massad’s statement from types such as David Horowitz and other propaganda (neoconservative, Zionist, or otherwise), it is now safe to say that “massad student” is neither a current or former student of Massad’s nor a person to really take seriously.

        • well

          you're right. Zionists and American Jews are one and the same.

  2. it'd be decent

    if we could all spell descent properly

  3. stupid

    tenures have no good purpose really and just cause drama

    • except

      protection of academic freedom. and perhaps even some job security - remember, unlike most educators, professors are not allowed to unionize. if tenure is ever to be abolished, the solution will hopefully not be a reliance on lecturers/adjuncts/grad students, but rather a long-awaited professors' union.

      • yeah

        Just what we need. Another union. So that shitty and expensive professors can never be fired, and can get away with unenthusiastic teaching.

        Look how well the labor union at Columbia is working for us. Facilities and security really are full of quality people who are great at their job and always willing to do more than 30% of what they should be doing.

  4. yayyyy

    Gooooo Massad!!!

  5. Emjay

    Re: BWOG Massad can relax

    You don't like Massad tenured? Vote with your feet and your $$$$!

    If nobody registers for his classes, the University Admin. will have to find something else for him to do!

  6. Anonymous

    Does the university publish a list of recently tenured professors? Where do we find the list?

  7. Alum

    Afaik, Columbia doesn't produce such a list. That's why the reports that say Massad's tenure was kept hush-hush are so silly. CU never announces tenure decisions. In this respect, at least, Massad's case was handled like all others.

  8. actually:

    itt's not "besides the point." At least not according to the American Association of University Professors Statement on Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure, which holds that professors �should at all times be accurate,� �should exercise appropriate restraint,� � show respect for the opinions of others,� and �remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances.� http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/policydocs/contents/1940statement.htm

    It's dismissals like this one--and the sorry state of Columbia's intellectual climate that carelessness like this inevitably reflects--that helps explain why Columbia's forever stuck with this jackass.

    • well

      if you think Columbia's intellectual climate is in a sorry state, why come here?

      Fortunately, most scholars whose brains aren't up their yarmulkes disagree with you. And...whisper it... but most people who haven't been subject to the tarnished US media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian issue are probably closer to his view than yours. This includes publications ranging from the BBC to moderate and left leaning sources in Israel itself.

    • Alum

      That's a fair point. But note also the AAUP's own interpretation of that very clause:

      “The controlling principle is that a faculty member’s expression of opinion as a citizen cannot constitute grounds for dismissal unless it clearly demonstrates the faculty member’s unfitness for his or her position. Extramural utterances rarely bear upon the faculty member’s fitness for the position. Moreover, a final decision should take into account the faculty member’s entire record as a teacher and scholar.”

      That's essentially what I was saying in comment 17, and it undermines your claim that the AAUP disagrees with me.

      • unless

        it clearly demonstrates the faculty member’s unfitness for his or her position. That's obviously a highly subjective standard--but it shows that extra-scholarly or non-scholarly work isn't irrelevant to the tenure process.

  9. actually:

    the above was in reply to #17 btw

  10. Anonymous

    I think its time for some grammar Nazi to come and diffuse the situation.

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