NEW YORK (Press Release) — Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF)-Columbia/Barnard Chapter sent a letter May 29 to Columbia President Lee Bollinger expressing concern at the university's failure to investigate the recent anti-Semtitic actions of Professor Hamid Dabashi who teaches in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS). The letter was signed by over 30 faculty and staff and hundreds of concerned alumni and community members.
On May 8, 2018, Hamid Dabashi shared his views on his Facebook page (see them here and here) regarding President Trump's recent decision to pull from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. Expressing disagreement to the pullout, Dabashi referred to Zionists as "laughing hyaenas (sic)." Dabashi also blamed any "treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world" on Israel and the "Fifth Column Zionists."
Alums for Campus Fairness' letter notes that Dabashi's actions are unwelcomed at Columbia University, which touts a strong Jewish community. While Dabashi has a right to free speech, this type of hate speech – and directed towards a minority group – creates a hostile environment for the campus community, and particularly Jewish, Israeli, and Pro-Israel students.
Alums for Campus Fairness-Columbia/Barnard Chapter asks President Bollinger to do the following:
1. Issue a formal, public statement unequivocally condemning Professor Hamid Dabashi's anti-Semitic postings as antithetical to Columbia University's liberal values;
2. State unequivocally that Jewish, Israeli and pro-Israel students, for whom Zionism and the right of Jewish self-determination are core values, are as welcomed at Columbia University as everybody else;
3. Meet with the representatives of alumni, parents, and selected signatories to discuss how the campus environment can be improved;
4. Relieve Professor Dabashi of teaching responsibilities until he commits to recognizing and ending his anti-Semitic rhetoric. This is not a free speech issue trying to prevent Professor Dabashi from espousing his personal opinions on his own time. He does not, however, have the right to create a hostile environment on campus for Jewish, Israeli, and pro-Israel students who are entitled–like every student–to a safe and welcoming learning environment.
Victor Muslin, Chapter Leader of ACF-Columbia/Barnard stated, "The actions of Professor Dabashi warrants a proper investigation and response by the Columbia administration. It is our hope with this letter, featuring a diverse cohort of faculty, staff, prominent alumni and community members will call attention to this professor's inflammatory comments."
Executive Director Avi D. Gordon explained, "ACF has worked with many universities and colleges to ensure a positive campus environment that is inclusive and tolerant of all opinions. On far too many campuses, actions of University Professors goes unchecked, it is our hope as a unified alumni voice, the administration will heed our call to action."*
Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF) is a non-profit organization that brings together alumni to oppose the new anti-Semitism that is infecting far too many university and college campuses, while also promoting an open and fair dialogue on campus regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. ACF works in partnership with StandWithUs.
ACF mobilizes alumni to press their alma maters to provide: (i) a safe and welcoming environment for students and faculty who feel a connection to Israel; and (ii) a comprehensive education, rather than activist propaganda, with respect to Israel.