Back in April, Martin Kramer pointed out a line in Joseph Massad’s defense statement that implied that he had the backing of the American Association of University Professors:
The Middle East Studies Association’s Academic Freedom Committee also issued a letter defending my academic freedom, as did the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the New York chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Kramer then brought to our attention that the AAUP sent president Bollinger of Columbia two letters, but those letters were never made public. This was especially important because the AAUP was the one outside organization that actually had the power to cow Columbia.
Now we can discern what they said. Joan Wallach Scott, who served on the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure since 1993 said the following in an interview referencing a report they put out (this will be a long one):
In the report, we commented on the fact that things were better than we had expected them to be. Although there had been some incidents that caused concern (the firing of Sami Al-Arian at the University of South Florida was the gravest of these), there were also good examples of administrators acting to uphold the principles of academic freedom. In the last two years, however, things have changed for the worse, largely because of increased intervention on campuses by outside agitators, most of them acting on behalf of organized lobbies intent on securing support for the policies of the current Israeli regime.
The stated goal of these groups is to remove any pro-Palestinian presence from campuses and to silence all criticism of Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank . These groups equate any criticism of Israel’s politics with anti-Semitism and with opposition to the existence of the state of Israel —claims that are as irresponsible as they are dishonest, but which seem to command a great deal of uncritical media attention. The result of their actions has been to make invisible the existence of opposition to the Sharon government among Israelis and among American Jews, myself included. They have also created a climate of fear and intimidation on campuses, making the free and open exchange of opposing ideas—the hallmark of the liberal university—difficult if not impossible. Critics of Israel have had their academic credentials challenged, their lives threatened, and their courses invaded. The threat to academic freedom is enormous, as it was during the McCarthy era. And many university administrations are in disarray. Fearful of the impact of bad publicity on donors, alumni, and prospective students, they hesitate to take strong stands against the invaders and instead try to accommodate them. There is no organized counterweight to this powerful lobby, only local resistances, and that bodes ill for the future.
So there we have it: before the Columbia case even was known to them, they passed judgment. Hell, if they’d defend Sami al-Arian–who stands to be indicted for aiding terrorist groups and yet would like to defend his academic freedom to do so on the grounds that he is a computer science professor–they’d certainly defend Massad, who did not actively call for the murder of his students; he simply verbally abused them, and used his position of power to indoctrinate and silence dissenting opinions, that’s all. Funny–our critics always claimed that we were “calling any criticism of Israel anti-Semitism.” That’s false, and I think what they really meant to say was that they think that any anti-Semitism is really only criticism of Israel.