Dr. Norton Mezvinsky was awarded the prestigious title of CSU professor on December 13, 2002. This honor was bestowed upon him unanimously by his own academic colleagues within the history department, by President Judd, as well as the CSU Board of Trustees. The recommendation was the result of Mezvinsky's tireless contributions in the scholarly spheres of teaching, research, and writing.
One of Mezvinsky's major accomplishments has been the recent publication of his book Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, which was co-authored with the late Israel Shahak. The book is now being printed in at least five different languages other than English, including Arabic, Turkish, Czech, Hebrew, and French, and a second edition will be coming out this spring.
Mezvinsky's long time critics, who assert that he is everything from anti-Israel to anti-Semitic, were quite infuriated at his receiving the CSU professorship award, especially in light of his recent book, which they see as an attack on Judaism. This, of course, is nonsense and is only upheld by people like Daniel Pipes and his McCarthyistic organization called "Campus Watch", which monitors universities for "anti-American" sentiment, which can be defined by him as anything anti-Israel. Diana Muir has also been raising noise about Mezvinsky and his book, and our own Dr. Matt Warshauer has invited her to come and debate the man to his face, which she surely will not do for obvious reasons.
"The charges of anti-Semitism in regard to me and my book are totally untrue...and the alleged citations from the book are clearly and fully taken out of context in order for them to be able to generalize," Mezvinsky commented.
The two author's contend right in the book's preface that "we are criticizing a negative part of the past that we love," without the larger positive context of Judaism being undermined. After 9/11, for example, many were quick to point out the destructiveness of Islamic fundamentalism. Mezvinsky (who comes from an Orthodox Jewish family), while not disagreeing with the denouncement of violent elements in religious radicalism, makes the point that "people who do it should also be critical of negative strains in their own past." This especially applies to Jewish voices who vilify Islamic fundamentalism, but quietly disregard the religious force of fundamentalism within Judaism which drove Baruch Goldstein to slaughter 29 Muslims worshipping in a holy mosque.
Even Yossi Olmert, the right-wing hard-line Zionist and member of Israel's Likhud party, has much respect for Mezvinsky as a scholarly professor with views that simply differ from his own. To continue his role as a champion of academic freedom, Olmert will give a university lecture open to all on Feb. 24, at 7 pm in Vance 105 coordinated by Mezvinsky. Some time after this, a Palestinian speaker will present his/her views. So it is clear that Dr. Mezvinsky puts his philosophy into action.