Course: CLME W3042 Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Societies
"Wow, tensions were flying high in this class between Zionist- sympathizers and Massad (and, to a lesser extent, between Zionist-sympathizers and Palestinian-sympathizers). Massad is clearly pro-Palestine in outlook, and while some students find this troubling, others find it refreshing. His descriptions of the suffering endured by Palestinians make great scholarship -- but he seems unable at times to see why the Jews, in their own words, would support and perpetrate such horrible policies. I agree with Massad`s stance, and I am glad to be able to take a class where the professor isn`t afraid to condemn a country for chronic flouting of UN resolutions and international law. At the same time, the lack of zionist voices in the (generally mixed-quality, sometimes brilliant) reading list and the strict guidelines on paper topics (they steer you towards making Massad`s own points) make this class not as thought-provoking as it should be. In all, most students were at least a little bit disappointed, though I felt this was because they felt frustrated having to learn the brutal history of Israel as fact, not because of shortcomings on Massad`s part. The course may not be perfect, but in scholarly terms, Massad is after something real, and there is a lot to be learned if you go along with him -- even if you criticize him all the way."
Course: ASCM V2008 Contemporary Islamic Civilization
"He might as well have cut through the bullshit and titled the class "Contemporary Egyptian Civ", because we didn`t get exposure to any other culture within the class. The reading is interesting, mostly, particularly the literature. Like the Intro to Islamic Civ class, however, it is all heavily biased. The professor (and, shockingly, many of the students) tend to turn discussion sections into "us vs. them" blame game, where they list the west`s various cultural crimes ad nauseum... not that it`s not justified, but it`s not really productive or interesting; if you`re in this class, chances are you already know Europe and the US suck. It`s a lecture course, but in an effort to make it a discussion class, Massad arbitrarily picks on people to answer questions that come out of the blue. If they aren`t answered satisfactorily, he tends to just let the subject drop instead of elaborating or correcting. There`s no context; one never gets a timeline of Egyptian history or politics, and so it`s easy to forget which work is a commentary on which leader or movement. The spring 2001 class was blessed with TAs who made it all worthwhile, but all in all, there are better courses in the MEALAC dept."
Course: Palestinian Israeli politics and societies
"This was possibly the most offended I`ve ever been. Massad does not even pretend to give the entire picture, he states that on the first day. Besides being offensive, is it really worth it to take a class that doesn`t tell you both sides of a controversy? I worry about the people who enter the class with little to no knowledge of the topic and form their opinions based on Massad`s lectures and assigned readings. Massad also doesn`t allow students to finish their questions before answering them. The class is taught unethically, and should be renamed "Why Palestinians Hate Israel." In sum, it sucks to take a class and walk away not feeling like you can form an educated opinion. It also sucks when your professor, (in my opinion) lies and even after being proven wrong by students, continues to lie."
Course: Contemporary Civilization
"A bizarre experience. Massad, whose writings and lectures on the Middle East have made him the most controversial professor on campus, is usually brilliant and provocative. But he`s always frustrating. The first semester of the course is a pretty stupid affair. The quality of the class varies greatly with Massad`s level of interest in a particular subject, and he isn`t interested in very much until he gets to Marx and Nietzsche. Our lecture on Thomas Aquinas, for instance, lasted about 20 minutes. You`ll spend most classes wondering how an apopleptic rant about US Foreign Policy that relates only vaguely to Plato or Aristotle is supposed to represent the "core" of your Columbia education. Massad clearly tries to provoke his students into applying ancient philosophy to current events, but he takes a categorically anti-U.S. tack at every possible opportunity, and usually succeeds only at alienating his students. The second semester is much better, mainly in the second half when Massad`s additions to the syllabus become the focus of the course. I`ll never forget what he taught me about Fanon, Cesaire, Adorno, and Edward Said - but it was only at these moments when CC felt like the experience Columbia purports it to be. The class features no discussion, which is a shame seeing as how that`s ostensibly the point of taking these courses in 20-person sections. Massad, in my opinion, is an egomaniac and entirely uninterested in hearing anything other than the sound of his own voice. I found his predilection for using his academic training to pick apart the semantics of statements made by his students horrifying. Do I regret taking Massad`s CC course? I guess not. It definitely wasn`t boring, and occasionally it was terrific. That`s saying a lot for a core course, I suppose."
(Student comments come from the student-operated anonymous professor-grading website, CULPA: http://culpa.procrastinationstation.com/php/prof_search.php4?prof_target=massad#262)
Columbia University's Worst Faculty
Joseph Massad of the Middle Eastern department. According to reliable source, Prof. Massad has openly supported Islamist terrorism against Israel, including suicide bombings of civilians. In his class on Israeli-Palestinian politics, Massad openly engages in conspiracy theories, teaching students about the connections between Nazis, Rothchilds, international bankers, and a host of other nefarious characters (such as the Freemasons or the Knights Templars) to dispossess Palestinians of their land and make them permanent victims of Western colonialism and imperialism. From what I hear, his behavior behooves that of a paranoid conspiracy theorist, and not that of a published academic. Massad has also come close to belittling, if not denying the Holocaust outright.
Appeared in: http://www.columbiacons.net/worst.htm, a website operated by the Columbia Conservative Alumni Association