Columbia University's Middle East Studies program has long been a center of anti-Israel activism. The controversy stems from a long line of professors who have been leaders in academic boycotts of Israeli professors. The school has a roster of professors who have been accused by students of anti-Israel bias-including charges that Jewish students have been subjected to prejudice from their professors.
Of course, the school was long home to Edward Said whose scholarly activities spawned a revolution-no pun intended-in the field of Middle East studies. Said pioneered an approach towards the field that condemned the West for its actions in the Middle East. He also was an anti-Israel activist who, among other activities, was pictured while on a trip to Lebanon throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers guarding their borders. His acolytes now have corrupted this field of academia and have imbued thousands of students with anti-Israel attitudes.
One of those acolytes was Rashid Khalidi, a close friend of Barack Obama in Chicago (see "Allies of Palestinians see a Friend in Barack Obama") and a person Obama credited with effecting his views of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Rashid was hired by Columbia a few years ago and now occupies the Edward Said chair in the Middle East Studies department- a powerful and prestigious position.
Khalidi who was a professor at Obama's University of Chicago, was feted at a going away party when he was named to the Middle East studies chair at Columbia. Obama and his wife Michelle sat with the Saids and Obama made remarks warmly praising Khalidi and identifying him as a close friend.
Now comes news that Columbia University has hired another professor for its Middle East Studies department: Timothy Mitchell. The New York Sun provides some background:
Timothy Mitchell, who was a politics professor at New York University and a previous director of the center for Near Eastern studies there, is now a professor of Arab studies at Columbia and the head of the graduate studies program in the Middle Eastern studies department.
Mr. Mitchell is taking a leadership role in a department that found itself at the center of the storm four years ago when pro-Israel students accused some Middle Eastern studies professors of intimidating them in the classroom. The controversy led Columbia officials to temporarily place the department into a receivership. It is now chaired by a professor of South Asian politics, Sudipta Kaviraj.
Mr. Mitchell is married to Lila Abu-Lughod, a professor of anthropology and gender studies at Columbia. She also signed the letter in support of the Israeli academic boycott, along with other professors in the department, including Joseph Massad, Hamid Dabashi, George Saliba, and Gil Andijar. She is the daughter of Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, to whom the Columbia comparative literature professor, Edward Said, who has since died, dedicated his most famous book, "Orientalism."
Mitchell has signed a letter advocating a boycott of Israeli academics.
Academic freedom and inquiry is not welcome at Columbia University, which has become a hotbed of anti-Israel activism highlighted by the welcome it extended to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the-Holocaust-denying and planning President of Iran.
Do you wonder if Barack Obama's friend-Rashid Khalidi, a powerful professor in this department-has ever taken one step to stop this travesty from happening?
One more question mark. Rita Hauser is also a fierce anti-Israel activist who travels around the nation to express her views. She is one of nine members of the Advisory Board of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University. This group plays a role in the Middle East Studies program at Columbia. Has Rita Hauser expressed any opposition to the worsening situation of bias at Columbia? Maybe she has been too busy signing on to the Republicans for Barack Obama -a group riddled with other anti-Israel people.