Joseph Massad is Assistant Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History in the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) at Columbia University. He is a self-described “Palestinian-Jordanian” who routinely condemns Israel as a “racist state” and has clamored for its destruction. In April 2002, for instance, he delivered a public lecture wherein he castigated Israel as “a Jewish supremacist and racist state,” adding that “[e]very racist state should be destroyed.” One month earlier, Massad had insisted that “the Jews are not a nation” and the “Jewish state is a racist state that does not have the right to exist.” “It is only by making the costs of Jewish supremacy too high that Israeli Jews will give it up,” Massad said on another occasion.
Declining to distinguish between civilian and military targets, Massad stresses that the “resistance of Palestinians,” must extend to Israeli “civil institutions.” He hails as “anti-colonial resistors” those Palestinian terrorists who undertake to murder Jews inside the so-called Green Line demarcating Israel’s pre-1967 border. “Israel,” he told The New York Times in an April 2005 interview, “is the party most responsible for the oppression of the Palestinian people.”
Speaking no Hebrew, Professor Massad has a demonstrably weak grasp of Israeli history, and his books contain numerous errors prompted by his animus towards the Israeli state. In his 2001 book, Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan, for example, Massad makes reference to a November 1966 Israeli raid and “massacre” that took place in Samu, Jordan. Yet not even the Jordanians, who suffered the casualties to which Professor Massad is referring, depicted Israel’s action as a “massacre.” Samir Mutawi, who authored the semiofficial account of Jordan’s involvement in the 1967 war, wrote that “eighteen Jordanians” were killed in the raid. In fact, Massad himself provides an identical casualty figure later in his own text — thereby contradicting his prior claim that a “massacre” had occurred.
In the same book, Massad also writes that in the March 1968 battle of Karamah, the Israeli army “could not escape unscathed (as it had during the 1967 war and on many other occasions). For the first time in its history, it received heavy damages in personnel and material.” But in fact, while Israel lost 28 soldiers at Karamah, it had lost some 800 in June 1967. Moreover, in the 1948 war against its Arab attackers, Israel had lost a combined 6,000 of its soldiers and civilians.
According to the course catalog description of Massad’s class titled “Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Society”: “The purpose of this course is not to provide ‘balanced’ coverage of the views of both sides but rather to provide a thorough yet critical overview of the Zionist-Palestinian conflict.” In Professor Massad’s view, Zionism — that is, the political and religious movement advocating the right of the Jewish people to an independent State — is inherently “anti-Semitic.”
Writing in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram in January of 2003, Massad attacked “Israel’s racist nature” and alleged an “ideological and practical collusion between Zionism and anti- Semitism since the inception of the movement.” Massad concretized this “collusion” with a reference to “Zionism’s anti-Semitic project of destroying Jewish cultures and languages in the diaspora in the interest of an invented Hebrew that none of them spoke, and in the interest of evicting them from Europe and transporting them to an Asian land to which they had never been …”
In one representative passage of the same Al–Ahram article, Professor Massad, citing no evidence, derided “the racist curricula of Israeli Jewish schools, the racist Israeli Jewish media representations of Palestinians, the racist declarations of Israeli Jewish leaders on the right and on the left, and the Jewish supremacist rights and privileges guiding Zionism and Israeli state laws and policies.”
In a December 2002 article for Al-Ahram, Massad wrote: “Today we live in a world where anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hatred, derived from anti-Semitism, is everywhere in evidence. It is not Jews who are being murdered by the thousands by Arab anti-Semitism, but rather Arabs and Muslims who are being murdered by the tens of thousands by Euro-American Christian anti-Semitism and by Israeli Jewish anti-Semitism.”
Massad repeatedly equates Israel and its leaders with Nazis. There are “stark” similarities, he claims, between the plight of Jews in Nazi concentration camps and Israeli prisons’ treatment of Palestinian terrorists (or “the children and young men of the stones and Molotov cocktails,” as Massad dubs them).
In the spring of 2005, Columbia University conducted an investigation into two incidents where Professor Massad was alleged to have screamed at pro-Israeli students. When questioned about the charges, Massad claimed to have no memory of any such occurrences. The investigatory committee concluded, however, that these incidents did indeed occur. Massad then dismissed his critics as being “pro-Israel.”