The city's Department of Education decided yesterday to drop a Columbia University professor who has called Israel a "racist" state from a professional-development course it is offering public-school teachers.
The department's decision came hours after a report appeared in The New York Sun revealing that the professor, Rashid Khalidi, would be one of the Columbia faculty members instructing the city's teachers on how to teach students about the history, culture, and politics of the Middle East.
"Considering his past statements, Rashid Khalidi should not have been included in a program that provided professional development for DOE teachers and he won't be participating in the future," Chancellor Joel Klein's press secretary, Jerry Russo, said in a statement sent via e-mail to the Sun yesterday evening.
When the Sun originally asked the department this week about Mr. Khalidi's involvement in the professional-development program, the department distanced itself from Mr. Khalidi but did not say it had any intention of changing the curriculum.
Mr. Khalidi is director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University. His professorship is paid for in part with a donation from the United Arab Emirates. Some of Mr. Khalidi's colleagues at Columbia are currently under investigation by the university because of their role in a scandal, stemming from students' complaints that some professors in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Culture treated pupils who are sympathetic toward Israel with hostility.
Asked Monday by the Sun about the involvement of Mr. Khalidi in the professional-development course, a City Council member from Brooklyn, Simcha Felder, called it "an abomination," and a Democratic mayoral candidate, Rep. Anthony Weiner, said: "For my money, this guy shouldn't even be teaching at Columbia, let alone being recruited to train our Board of Ed teachers."
Last night, informed of the removal of Mr. Khalidi from the course, Mr. Weiner said: "It's a step in the right direction, but we really need to shine more attention on the hateful message of Khalidi and others like him at Columbia."
Although Mr. Khalidi will no longer be lecturing city teachers, the city is still offering the course in conjunction with and under the sponsorship of the institute he runs. The course in question, which meets at a public school on the Upper West Side, began February 3 and runs through June.
A course description in a booklet published by the education department and bearing the name of Chancellor Klein says kindergarten teachers, high-school teachers, and everyone in between could enroll in the Middle East course. Mr. Khalidi was one of more than a dozen Columbia professors participating