Many Believe Bias Tainted Columbia Committee's Report on Anti-Semitism
By Ed Thomas
April 8, 2005
(AgapePress) - A report summarizing investigation of alleged anti-Semitism and intimidation has left students and faculty at New York's Columbia University dissatisfied with the findings.
The ad hoc grievance committee report released last week by a five-member faculty panel at Columbia was the result of several years of complaints -- some of them documented in a student film called Columbia Unbecoming
-- and testimony allegedly taken from at least 100 people. The grievance committee concluded that no proof was found of widespread anti-Israel bias, particularly in the Middle-Eastern Studies Department. The committee also claimed to find only three valid complaint incidents of note.
However, Professor Judith Jacobson of Columbia's School of Public Health says she and other pro-Israel faculty and students at the university find the ad hoc committee's conclusions unacceptable. "The three incidents that they comment about were included in the film, Columbia Unbecoming
, so they weren't adding any additional information to what was already out there, and that in itself is suspect," she says.
A university chapter of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) had already complained to Columbia trustees in January about the makeup of the grievance committee. The advocacy group charged that nearly all of the committee members were linked to anti-Israel divestment campaign efforts on the university campus, had ties with the Middle Eastern Studies Department, or were otherwise connected with those accused of intimidation of Zionists on campus -- including the Columbia professor accused of the most glaring ethnic intimidation.
SPME also complained that, in at least one case, a committee member had allegedly compared Israel to Nazi Germany in public statements. A spokesman for SPME says the peace advocacy group agrees with New York Times
columnist Thomas L. Friedman, who wrote that criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic per se, and it would be "vile" to say so; but "singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest."