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The MESA-ization of Columbia U

Reading about the Saudi-funded junket of a Columbia University dean rang some bells. Lisa Anderson not only runs the School of International and Public Affairs, but puts a lot of effort into promoting the agenda of the Middle East Studies Association, and was deeply involved in the development of the MEALAC program criticized in the documentary Columbia Unbecoming:

She is the subject of an article that is part of a series on Columbia University by Campus Watch.
Her most recent achievement was in raising money, almost entirely from Arab sources for an "Edward Said Chair in Middle Eastern Studies." Though Edward Said was neither a scholar or teacher of either Islam, or of the Middle East, but a celebrated polemicist, Anderson found nothing peculiar in naming this chair after him . . . . she managed to raise $4 million, and was instrumental in keeping the sources of that funding secret for as long as possible. Much effort had to be expended to persuade Columbia to reveal those sources, though New York State Law requires such information to be reported when it involves foreign funds. And finding the perfect occupant for the chair, she held it for him until such time as he, Rashid Khalidi, could extricate himself from the University of Chicago, and arrive to sit on it himself. She gushed that she "can't "honestly think of a better person to recruit to Columbia."
Rashid Khalidi has been exposed as a plagiarist.

A list of the donors to the Edward Said Chair in middle Eastern Studies, solicited and whole or in part by Lisa Anderson.

Anderson's protegee Joseph Massad - one of the professors accused of intimidating students in the "Columbia Unbecoming" film - writes screeds like this and this and is supported by the likes of Juan Cole and Mona Baker. The NYSun reported his antics at a panel on the Middle East:
Joseph Massad took the floor, and the floodgates of hatred opened wide. Mr. Massad is one of the MEALAC professors accused of demanding of one Israeli student, 'How many Palestinians did you kill today?' At the forum, he used the phrase 'racist Israeli state' more than two dozen times. He used seemingly universalist language of anti-racism to drive a fascist argument. Mr. Massad is so extreme that he argued that Arafat was in effect an Israeli collaborator for even talking about compromise.

"Whatever can be said of this rant, its 'academic' content was hard to discern. But to judge by the applause he received, Mr. Massad was the star of the evening. Obviously, Mr. Massad, an acolyte of the dear departed George Habash, isn't worried about President Bollinger's panel, which includes three professors who have signed petitions demanding that all universities divest from Israel...

. . . . the panel was cosponsored by the university chaplain, the Student Senate, and two of Columbia's most prestigious academic affiliates: the Middle East Institute, headed by professor Khalidi, and the School of International and Public Affairs. SIPA's dean, Lisa Anderson, was appointed by Mr. Bollinger to the committee looking into the charges against professor Massad - whose dissertation adviser she was. [emphasis mine - JSW]
Martin Kramer describes the incestuous process of MESA, of which Anderson is past president:
[Massad] is the flower of Columbia University and American Middle Eastern studies. He completed his doctorate at Columbia; Columbia University Press published it; and Columbia University now employs him (to teach, inter alia, Israeli politics and society). The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) awarded him its prize for outstanding dissertation, and the resulting book has been reviewed favorably by MESA's current president-elect. Massad also recently passed his three-year review at Columbia, and is now on leave writing what I have heard described as his "tenure book," the opus he hopes will make Columbia his oyster. It's entitled The Persistence of the Palestinian Question, and its core argument is—you guessed it—Israel is a racist state. . . . . (Khalidi earlier endorsed Massad's first book as "one of the best of the new crop.")
Tony Badran of Across the Bay describes Massad's twisting of historical fact in an exchange with Israeli historian Benny Morris.

More about Massad's scholarly output.

(Cross-posted to Kesher Talk)


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