I got this a bit late–the Jerusalem Post wrote an editorial on Dec 23rd, 2004, saying, among other things that
Clearly, the crisis faced these days by Columbia University, where a struggle between friends and enemies of the Jewish state has become a mini-Mideastern war, is not unique to the veteran Ivy League school in Manhattan’s Upper West Side…[Professor’s] role in inspiring boycotts of Israeli scholars and media bias against Israel cannot be exaggerated.
That this scandal has been first blown open by students is admirable, and in keeping with American campuses’ time-honored healthy spirit of rebellion against authority. What is disturbing is the ongoing compromise in American universities of academic integrity among various Middle Eastern studies departments.
What I would add to the list of disturbing things is that there are students who are willing to accept the abuse of other students as long as their professor spouts polemics that they believe in. I am speaking, of course, of the Ad-Hoc group of students formed to protect Joseph Massad, which do not deny that he made the comments that he did (and if they do they would be pressed to know that every incident has been corroborated and confirmed by other students present, in contradiction to his statements otherwise) but rather are protecting him because he serves their political cause.
That is short-sighted at best, but a downright sad vision of the future of the American activists at best: it portends a generation of activists who are willing to tolerate oppression as long as it serves their political ends. That’s not the Left I grew up in and am proud to be a member of. I hope these students realize that honesty is the key to progressive action, and supporting the students who have been abused by their professors–or at least giving the abused party the benefit of the doubt by not outright dismissing their concerns–is the least they can do to stay honest.