Fordham Historian Lambasts ‘Shabby Treatment’ In Row Over Israel Boycott, Vows to Continue Fighting Anti-Semitism

Historians in the News
tags: anti-Semitism



“I’ve decided that I should do what I believe in,” Professor Doron Ben Atar, the Fordham University academic who faced a discrimination charge after vocally speaking out against the academic boycott of Israel, told The Algemeinerduring an interview on Thursday morning. “Many people have warned me that Fordham is going to retaliate. I can’t tell if they will or not, but we are living in a toxic age, and it’s time for people to make a stand.”

The avuncular Ben Atar – a tenured professor whose research and publications span such topics as the early American republic and the history of anti-Semitism, and who is a playwright to boot – has become a cause celebre over the last 24 hours, following the publication of his article in Tablet Magazine detailing his “Kafkaesque” ordeal at Fordham.

In that piece, Ben Atar described how, at an April meeting of Fordham’s American History Program, he urged the severing of ties with the American Studies Association (ASA) for its December 2013 decision to join the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Shortly after that exchange, Ben Atar received a letter from Anastasia Coleman, Fordham’s Director of Institutional Equity and Compliance, informing him that a complaint had been received from Michelle McGee, the American History Program’s director. McGee alleged that Ben Atar had, as he wrote in Tablet,  “threatened to destroy the program” and invoked Title IX – which prohibits discrimination in education programs receiving federal funding – as the basis of her complaint.

Ben Atar remains mystified as to why a legal instrument dealing with discrimination would be turned against a professor seeking to “fight” – his word, and therefore possibly the basis for McGee’s complaint – anti-Semitism among faculty. “There is a problem with sexual assaults on campuses,” Ben Atar said, “and the instruments to fight it are now being used more widely by a leftist academic clique, whose influence in society is very marginal, but which exercises disproportionate influence over the academic study of the humanities.” Indeed, when Colman met with Ben Atar, she told him that members of both the faculty and the administration had joined McGee’s complaint, without specifying who.

Since the only member of the Fordham Administration present at the April meeting was John Harrington, who has since been appointed Dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill, Ben Atar suspects that Harrington’s name was on the complaint, but he has, as yet, no concrete proof of this (an email from The Algemeiner to Harrington was unanswered by press time.) ...





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