Apr 2, 2005 4:45 pm


Press Release -- The David Project -- March 31, 2005
Contact: Dr. Charles Jacobs, President 617-428-0012

David Project Responds to Columbia Report on Student Harassment

“Biased committee ignores facts, protects its own”

Responding to the just-released report of Columbia University’s Grievance Committee headed by Vice President of Arts and Sciences Nicholas Dirks, Charles Jacobs, President of the David Project in Boston, issued the following statement:

This is a biased report by a biased committee, which ignored the facts to protect its own.

We expected an unfair report from a committee composed of friends and colleagues -- and even a thesis advisor -- of the professors it was supposed to investigate. But the report is disgraceful, beyond our expectation. The Dirks Committee failed President Bollinger, who only a few days ago told the press that Columbia professors cannot “use the podium as an ideological platform to indoctrinate a captive audience.”

The Committee considered only three incidents of professors harassing students worthy of investigation. We know there were many more. It projected blame for the problems on outside forces.

While the Committee judged the testimony of Professor Joseph Massad not truthful – he was charged with shouting at a student, “If you’re going to deny the atrocities being committed against Palestinians, then you can get out of my classroom!” -- the report so gently chided him (“…his rhetorical response to her query exceeded commonly accepted bounds…”) that his wrist may not register the slap.

The Dirks Committee report tries to silence dissenting professors, upbraiding whistleblowers on the faculty who help students report abuse by other professors.

The report admits the University Administration was insensitive, inconsiderate, and even antagonistic to students who complained that anti-Israel professors harassed them. And it admits that students had no effective means to register complaints. But it reduced a major academic scandal to only these narrow bureaucratic foul-ups.

Most importantly, the Dirks Committee evades the main issue: the teaching of lies and propaganda by Arabist professors who so demonize Israel that defenders of the Jewish state find themselves in a hostile environment in their classes.

The report evades this issue by referring to incidents of biased, dishonest teaching in pedagogical and psychological terms. It classes them as “rhetorically combative” methods or as expressions of “uncongenial views” that – and the issue is reduced to this – make some students “uncomfortable.”

But the committee never considers the possibility that these “teachings” are lies and propaganda. When Professor Massad teaches that the word “Zion” means “penis” and therefore Zionism is a macho movement, this is not an uncongenial view, but a lie. When at Columbia it is taught that the Jews are Nazis and the Palestinians are the new Jews, and that the Jews slaughtered Arabs in Jenin, these are not “rhetorically combative” modes of teaching; they are blood libels, anti-Semitic provocations, deceptions, and Arabist propaganda.

These issues will only fester if “investigated” by friends of the offending professors, many themselves anti-Israel activists, circling the wagons. The only question is: What will Lee Bollinger do to restore academic integrity?

The David Project, which promotes a fair and honest discussion of the Middle East Conflict, produced the film, “Columbia Unbecoming.”

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