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Posted in: Anti-Semitism, Culture Wars & Censorship

Published on Nov 06, 2007 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Make Every Word Count

The Ascent of Professor Abu El-Haj to a Lifetime Position at Barnard


So, here I am, sipping my morning coffee and reading my first twenty (yes, twenty) hardcopy and online newspapers (I read double that amount by the end of the day–doesn't everyone?) when I read the brief New York Sun editorial titled "Colonizing Barnard". And HERE is the Columbia Spectator coverage.

Apparently, over the weekend, Barnard quietly (very quietly) granted tenure to Professor Nadia Abu El-Haj. There! Take that you Pushy Jews!

Abu El-Haj is the professor who allegedly claims that Jews and therefore Israel have no or little historical or archaeological ties to the land of Israel or to the Temple Mount. I am not familiar with her work. Perhaps she does not make this claim. Perhaps this false claim constitutes only a teensy weensy part of her work which members of the all-powerful Jewish Lobby have seized upon to defame an ideologically true daughter of the late but very far from great Professor Edward Said, also Columbia's own.

Look: Professor Abu El-Haj is an anthropologist. According to recent studies, that discipline is by far the most politicized of them all. Their anti-Zionism is an article of anthropological faith. Anthropologists have taught us all to support the rights of each and every indigenous culture, the more cannibalistic the better–save one. The rights of the Jews are a mote in their eye, an offense. They live to pluck it out.

Funny, but the New York Times does not mention that Columbia affirmed Barnard's decision to grant her tenure in their hardcopy edition. (But I have just learned the hard way that one must also pore over their online edition to see where they bury certain items the better to cover their asses.)

Aha! The news of Abu El-Haj's ascent may indeed be found in their online edition on Saturday, November 3, 2007 in a 197 word article. (Press here.) Strange, on September 10th, when her tenure was first challenged, the New York Times ran a story titled "Fracas Erupts Over Book on Mideast by a Barnard Professor Seeking Tenure." The word count was 1,288. (Press here.) And, Abu El-Haj's bona fides were carefully spelled out: Duke, Harvard, Princeton. How in God's name could anyone who studied in these august venues be anything but a truth-teller, above reproach?

Look: I am a retired Emerita Professor and truly, I understand that outsiders have no place in tenure decisions. But there is a larger issue here. What is to be done when lies are presented as distinguished truths, replete with footnotes and academic publishers and students are indoctrinated accordingly? When racist hate speech against the Jews is presented as a "politically correct" act of defiance and resistance?

Abu El-Haj may indeed be a serious scholar. But based on what I do know about other "serious" scholars at Barnard and Columbia (their names are legion), the definition of "serious" is often someone who excels in hating America and Israel and who, in their spare time, also dabbles in their area of specialization.

Quo vadis, my friends? Which way are we to go in this fair Republic of Ours when our most noble First Amendment and academic freedoms are concepts now being used against the very freedoms they were meant to guarantee?


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