NEW YORK - A Columbia University ad-hoc faculty committee charged with investigating complaints of Israel bashing, anti-Semitism, and intimidation of pro-Israel students by professors, reported today that it found "no evidence of any statements made by the faculty that could be construed as anti-Semitic" and actually criticized pro-Israel students for disrupting lectures on Middle East studies and spying on faculty members.
The committee was formed several months ago by Columbia President Lee Bollinger in response to a videotape of Columbia and Barnard students complaining of intimidation by anti-Israel professors and general anti-Israel bias. The ad-hoc faculty committee, chosen by Bollinger, consisted of five faculty members at Columbia, most of whom were known for their anti-Israel hostility.
The members included Lisa Anderson, Dean of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, who served as a doctoral dissertation advisor to Joseph Mossad, one of the professors being charged with Israel bashing. Mossad thanked Anderson in his book stating that, "I would like to thank Lisa Anderson, my professor and advisor, for believing in this project and for supporting it...Her trust in me strengthened my resolve to proceed and finally to complete this project."
Another member was Mark Mazower, Professor of History, a severe critic of Israel who has suggested that the current problem of global anti-Semitism is because of Israel. Two other members, Farah Griffin and Jean Howard, professors of English, both signed a petition calling for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel and called on Columbia to divest from companies selling military equipment to Israel.
In fact, after these committee members were announced, eleven Columbia students who appeared in the video wrote a letter to President Lee Bollinger on December 13, 2004, saying, "The committee is composed of faculty members who are either personally or professionally close to the professors accused of abuse." A Columbia spokeswoman, Susan Brown, responded by saying, "the Columbia administration has confidence that the committee would act impartially."
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) had written to President Bollinger complaining that his committee member choices were almost all openly biased against Israel. ZOA President Morton A. Klein, National Board Chairman Dr. Michael Goldblatt, and Executive Committee Chairman Dr. Alan Mazurek wrote, "the choice of this group of investigators is as ludicrous and illegitimate as would be a group of PLO executive committee members chosen to investigate Israeli actions."
After today's report was issued, ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, "It is deeply disturbing to see that a major university, with a major Jewish student population, with a base of major Jewish donors would appoint such a biased panel largely hostile to Israel, to investigate charges of bias against Israel, Jews, and pro-Israel students. The composition of this panel made certain what the report's conclusions would be – that there is no problem of Israel bias and intimidation on Columbia's campus. It would be almost humorous if it wasn't so frightening to see Columbia just ignore and then whitewash hostility to Israel and pro-Israel Jews on campus.
"We urge that President Lee Bollinger set up a new and truly impartial panel to review this intolerable situation again. If Bollinger refuses, the ZOA urges that donors to Columbia, both Jewish and those concerned about bias, reconsider the wisdom of funding Columbia University. In addition, parents should reconsider the wisdom of sending their children to Columbia or Barnard. My own daughter went to Barnard and I already regret all the checks I sent made out to that University.
"I assure you if this was an issue of anti-African American bias, Columbia would never ignore or whitewash such charges. Jews deserve no less."