Columbia Professor Joseph Massad, who has a history of criticizing Israel, wrote on an anti-Zionist website that it’s anti-Semitic to refer to Israel as “the Jewish state.”
In an August 24 Electronic Intifada piece titled “Anti-Semitism vs. anti-colonialism,” Massad argued that the ongoing anti-Semitic controversies involving Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party was predicated on Zionists equating criticisms of the Israeli government to anti-Semitism.
“In naming its state ‘the Jewish people,’ the Zionist movement conflated and conflates its colonial project with all Jews, even when the majority of world Jewry did not support the movement and continues to refuse to live in, and become citizens of, Israel,” Massad wrote. “Therefore, it is imperative to emphasize that it is Israel and its supporters who conflate Israel with all Jews, and then claim that condemning Israel, its laws, policies, actions and ideology amounts to condemning the Jewish people.”
Massad added that Palestinians are simply resisting Israel’s “racist and colonial nature.”
“If there should be a definition of anti-Semitism to be adopted by the Labour Party (or any other political party or institution) in Britain today, it should include the condemnation of anti-Semitic and colonial expressions such as: ‘Israel is the Jewish state,’ or ‘Israel is the state of the Jewish people’ or Israel ‘speaks for Jews,’ or colonizing the land of the Palestinians is a ‘Jewish value,’” Massad wrote.
Massad has written similar statements in the past, such as in 2003, when he wrote that Israel has turned “the Jew into the anti-Semite, and the Palestinian into the Jew.”
Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in a phone interview that Massad is “a denier of reality.”
“This professor at Columbia University is going to teach us who is a Jew, what is anti-Semitism, and he has to come up with a construct that makes him feel comfortable,” Cooper said, “and along the way, by constructing it his way, he gets to blame the victim.”
Cooper added that the “blame the victim” tactic has been used by anti-Semites for years, stating that it goes as far back as “the church in the Middle Ages,” when they said that bad things happened to the Jews because they wouldn’t convert to Christianity.
“Now, it’s real simple: ‘Oh, if only the Jews would walk away from the largest Jewish community in the world, there would be no more anti-Semitism,’” Cooper said. “It’s an old tactic dressed up in the most fancy, post-modern lexicon, but it still comes down to old-fashioned Jew hatred.”
According to the Canary Mission website, Massad has previously stated that “the Jewish state is a racist state that does not have the right to exist” and that Zionists were allied with the Nazis.
A student who took Massad’s class on Palestinian and Israeli Politics wrote in an August 2017 post on an anonymous student review site of Columbia professors:
He really blurs the line between facts and opinions, which gets on everyone’s nerves.
Massad treats a lot of his course like a media appearance advocating for one side and berating the other. I can’t say he is as intense as some of his fans in the course who think everyone criticizing him is just trying to paint him as an anti-Semite, but Massad can be frustrating to work with.
He brings a lot of analysis to the course but much of that is skewed, something that wasn’t obvious to classmates of mine who were less familiar with the course material than I was.