Columbia Professor Criticized for Anti-Semitic Facebook Posts

Tenured prof knocked for posts on Jared Kushner and Gal Gadot

Butler Library at Columbia University
Butler Library at Columbia University / Wikimedia Commons
November 14, 2017

A tenured professor at Columbia University has been criticized by students for a social media post in which he referred to "Jared Kushner's Zionist kins [sic]" who "kill and rob Palestinians," and described the Jewish White House adviser as a "creature."

Hamid Dabashi, the Hagop Kevorkian professor of Iranian Studies and comparative literature, wrote the offending Facebook post on Sunday.

"There is a reason why a small gang of European Zionists could land in Palestine and in broad daylight of history steal it from under the feet of Palestinians smack in the middle of hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims—that reason throughout the recent history has had many faces and today that reason is in the shape of this contemptible coward Mohamed bin Salman [Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia]," he wrote.

"Like a rich brat teenager that [bin Salman] is he hides behind the wing of his Israeli and American protectors and benefactors, buys them with his windblown wealth, so that Jared Kushner's Zionist kins can kill and rob Palestinians even more as they enable him to slaughter Yemeni women and children apace," he wrote.

"Look at all their ignoble ugly contemptible countenances— who are these creatures, from what subterranean holes did they creep out? What are they laughing at? What colossal misery of our doomed humanity has sent a giggle through their infested abdomens?" he wrote above a photo of bin Salman, Kushner, and Ivanka Trump taken during the official White House trip to the Middle East in May.

The posts appear to be in response to reports that bin Salman has urged Palestinian leadership to accept an anticipated Trump administration peace plan, following an unannounced trip by Kushner to Saudi Arabia in October.

"Intentionally or not, Dabashi alluded to conspiracy theories of Israeli-American puppet masters. He repeats the trope that Zionists, and therefore most Jews, are subhuman, and uses vermin imagery that is, of course, reminiscent of Nazi propaganda," said Dore Feith, a Columbia student and former president of Aryeh: Columbia Students Association for Israel.

Feith said this was "not the first time Dabashi has called on anti-Semitic themes" in his condemnation of Israel, referring to a piece the professor wrote for Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram in 2004.

"What they call 'Israel' is no mere military state," he wrote. "A subsumed militarism, a systemic mendacity with an ingrained violence constitutional to the very fusion of its fabric, has penetrated the deepest corners of what these people have to call their 'soul.'"

Years of "systematic maiming and murdering" of Palestinians had left on "deep marks on the faces of these people"—Israeli Jews—and on "the way they talk, the way they walk, the way they handle objects, the way they greet each other, the way they look at the world," Dabashi continued.

"There is an endemic prevarication to this machinery, a vulgarity of character that is bone-deep and structural to the skeletal vertebrae of its culture," he concluded.

Columbia's leadership distanced itself from Dabashi at the time.

"I want to completely disassociate myself from those ideas. They're outrageous things to say, in my view," said Columbia University President Lee Bollinger.

"It's disturbing, not to mention disgusting, that a professor repeatedly hides behind tenure to peddle anti-Semitic conspiracy theories," said Feith.

Rudy Rochman, co-founder of another Columbia pro-Israel group, Students Supporting Israel, was unequivocal in his condemnation of Dabashi.

"Professor Dabashi is fearlessly anti-Semitic," he told the Washington Free Beacon. "[Dabashi] constructs his argument through a twisted narrative, where Jews control the world, have all money, and are responsible for all the evil affecting the human race."

Dabashi frequently posts his thoughts on current events on his public Facebook page. On Monday, he responded to reports that Gal Gadot, the Israeli star of Wonder Woman, would not sign on for a sequel unless producer Brett Ratner, accused by multiple women of sexual harassment, was cut from the franchise.

"She is against sexual assault on white woman but she is for the mass slaughter of Palestinian women, men, and children—of course she is the sweetheart of Israeli, European, and US press," he wrote, an apparent reference to Gadot's IDF service.

After the ISIS-inspired Halloween terror attack in Manhattan by an Uzbekistani national, Dabashi urged his readers not to focus on the attacker’s motivations.

"It's sickening—it makes no difference any longer who did it and what they call it — we need no more proof that Trump is a racist xenophobe who hates Muslims and is the cheerleader-in-chief of white supremacists—what's the point to keep accumulating evidence and examples—he is a contemptible racist that Americans have happily elected as their leader," wrote Dabashi.

Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum think tank, which runs the "Campus Watch" project tracking anti-Israel sentiment in academia, said Dabashi is representative of the academic mainstream in the field of Middle Eastern studies.

"At university, you can do and say what you want and will not be held accountable, as long as you reaming in line with the prevailing views," said Pipes. "Today, that means left-wing, pro-Islamic, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel views. You can be unrestrained in your heated rhetoric, so long you are heated about the right things."

Pipes encouraged parents to "look at what you’re paying $60,000 a year for your child to learn."

Columbia did not respond to repeated requests for comment by press time.

Dabashi did not respond to an emailed list of questions or phone calls.