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December 18, 2015 5:50 am

Columbia University Professor Popular in Germany for Hating Israel, Downplaying Holocaust

avatar by Clemens Heni

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The gates of the Auschwitz death camp. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The gates of the Auschwitz death camp. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Columbia University Iranian studies scholar Hamid Dabashi has become the darling of German academia. It’s no coincidence that he exemplifies academic hatred for Israel and the trivialization of German crimes and the Holocaust.

Columbia’s Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Dabashi has experienced a flurry of speaking engagements at German universities and organizations. In May 2015, he was invited to speak at Freie Universität Berlin. On November 26, he spoke at the Institute for Foreign Affairs, which is financed by the German Foreign Ministry, the state of Baden-Württemberg, and the city of Stuttgart in the Southwest of Germany. The event was hosted by the Berlin Social Science Center. The day before, Dabashi spoke at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, associated with the Party of the Left, which has become known for several antisemitic scandals in recent years. In May 2016, Dabashi will be one of the keynote speakers at the “Third Bremen Conference on Language and Literature in Colonial and Postcolonial Contexts.”

Germany is a hotbed of academic antisemitism, particularly in the fields of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. Germans are particularly pleased with non-European scholars, such as Dabashi, who will defame Israel and downplay the crimes of the Holocaust. French philosopher Vladimir Jankélévitch analyzed this new antisemitism as early as 1971 in his piece, “Forgiving?” (“Pardonner?”), in which he noted the need of Germans to accuse Jews of being “like Nazis.” Turning their former victims, the Jews, into perpetrators diminishes the Germans’ unprecedented crimes. Scholarship labels this the “inversion of truth.” It can also be framed as “secondary anti-Semitism,” a form of post-Holocaust antisemitism. Denying Auschwitz is for beginners.

Dabashi calls his new book, Can Non-Europeans Think? (April 2015), part three of his “Intifada trilogy.” In it, Dabashi promotes the trope, popularized by anti-Israel activist Ilan Pappé, that Israel is committing an “incremental genocide“ of the Palestinians. Palestinian sources themselves admit that the populations of Gaza and the West Bank have grown in recent decades, rendering this definition of “genocide” particularly perfidious.

As I demonstrated in my 2013 book, Dabashi wants to destroy the Jewish state of Israel, which he calls a “racist Apartheid state.” He supported German former Waffen SS member and Nobel Prize Laureate Günter Grass after he’d written a nasty anti-Israel poem portraying Iran as a victim of Israeli aggression.

According to international scholarship and the US State Department, the comparison or equation of Israel to Nazi Germany is antisemitic in effect if not intent. In 2014, as Martin Kramer noted, Dabashi equated Auschwitz with Gaza with his article, “Gaza: Poetry after Auschwitz.” In a leading German daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), Dirk Braunstein of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research, an expert on the philosopher Theodor W. Adorno — whom Dabashi employed for his flawed comparison — proffered the same criticism.

Dabashi is eager to use Jewish philosophers such as Edmund Husserl, eminent Zionist Emmanuel Lévinas, and Adorno — who was very pro-Israel, as recent scholarship, including my own, has shown — for his anti-Semitic purposes. He is influenced by anti-Zionist, post-colonialist authors Edward Said, Gianni Vattimo, and Walter Mignolo. Mignolo, an Argentinian-born supporter of the anti-Jewish state resolution, “One State Solution,” wrote the foreword to Dabashi’s Can Non-Europeans Think?

In a 2012 article, Dabashi paraphrased French post-colonialist poet Aimé Césaire’s Discourse sur le colonialisme/Discourse on Colonialism:

[T]he Jewish Holocaust was not an aberration in European history. Rather, Europeans actually perpetrated similar crimes against humanity on the colonised world at large. 

This is an extreme distortion of history, a lie, and a denial of the unprecedented evil of the Holocaust, in which Germans (and their helpers) killed six million Jews. Never before was there the intention, plan, and the infrastructure to murder an entire people. Auschwitz was a complete breakdown of civilization and not in any way comparable to crimes committed during colonialism, imperialism, or any other atrocity in history. It was no less than the industrial slaughter of a people. Millions of other Jews were deported to the woods of Eastern Europe and eradicated. It was in every way unparalleled.

The government-sponsored German Institute for Foreign Affairs and other leading universities would never host a known neo-Nazi who claims that Israel is an “apartheid state,” that Auschwitz was a mere “crime” on par with the 2014 Gaza war, and that the Iranian threat does not exist. However, a non-European like the Iranian-born Dabashi is not only welcomed, but embraced by German audiences for two reasons: hatred of Israel and the distortion of German crimes and the Holocaust.

Can non-Europeans think? Of course. Can non-Europeans be antisemites and hateful agitators, obsessed with the trivialization of the Shoah as well as with the destruction of the Jewish State? Obviously, yes. Dabashi proves the point.

The author, Dr. Clemens Heni, is a political scientist, the Director of the Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA), a former Post-Doc at YALE. He is author of five books, including “Schadenfreude. Islamic Studies and Antisemitism in Germany after 9/11” (2011, in German, 410 pages) and “Antisemitism: A Specific Phenomenon: Holocaust Trivialization – Islamism – Post-colonial and Cosmopolitan anti-Zionism” (2013, 648 pages, in English). He wrote this essay for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

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  • Rita

    Does anyone believe that Dabashi really cares about the welfare of the Palestinians or about cleaning the conscience of the Germans? knowing him as a most opportunistic person- I do not believe it.
    When Hamid Dabashi came to Columbia some 35 years ago, he quickly discovered the potential of getting ahead, using a free ride on the anti-Israel wave that was initiated at that time by his mentor, Eduard Said. Joining that wave has helped Dabashi in dealing with his identity problems, and eased his inner troubles by enabling him to express the deep anger and hatred, the pure hatred, the intense infinite psycho pathological hatred and aggression, which he had always carried in his heart. His reward was : climbing up to the top of the antisemitic hierarchy, and being invited to speak everywhere. One cannot deny that the man is a genius, for his ability to transform his psycho- pathological hatred into a lucrative business.

    • Alan

      Dabashi admired Said but also competed with him and worked hard to outdo him. Said, with all his anti-Israel propaganda, never spat out that much venom as Dabashi does. While officially Dabashi claims he does not support the Iranian regime, at the same time he cannot free himself from his own fanatic Shiite out bringing, and consequently he follows their murderous anti-Israel line .His tenure as a professor is a big shame for Columbia.

    • Steve Meltz

      The same could easily be said of Adolf Hitler… Seizing on the idea of hatred and taking it to the next level.

  • Sandi

    I guess he’ll continue to be the Hagop Kevorkian Professor as long as he doesn’t attempt to trivialize the Armenian genocide!

    • Franklin Delano Paskutnik

      Well said!

  • Frank Adam

    Leaving aside the current academics’ in-fight the Germans were important in studying the Islamic World till the advent of Hitler and failure to read to consult with those who knew that field is one of the big failings of Said’s “Orientalism”. True he knew French but not German but Said could have sought the assistance of a Germanophone colleague and research assistant(s) to help him. For a book that is principally a tirade against French and English lack of empathy to learning about the Moslem World, Said falls foul of his own criticism (p.177 of the Penguin pbk Silver Jubilee edition) when he admits that most fields of study converge on a received opinion till a major discovery and with it paradigm shift occurs. He made no major discovery and only caught and abused a certain type of anti-colonial sympathy which never considers the ambitions and failings of the Moslem World -whether Arab, Mughal or Turkish.

  • In the light of the above Algemeiner article, I am yet once again so thoroughly ashamed of Columbia University, where I studied as a graduate student from August 1967 until Spring 1973.

    My current heart-felt repudiation of Columbia University must mean something, because I hold from Columbia University: a Master of Arts (December 1968); Certificate of the Institute on East Central Europe (June 1970); and the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (May 1973).

    For many years now, Columbia University has been in the forefront of a strident and noxious anti-Israelism and antisemitism that is reprehensible and repugnant. First there was Barack Obama’s Columbia professor Edward Said and now this Columbia University hatemonger Hamid Dabashi, as described in this very informative Algemeiner article.

    From Columbia, I regularly receive countless appeals to contribute money to the university. However, you can be sure that, even were I fabulously wealthy, I would never give a cent to support Columbia’s persistent anti-Israelism and growing antisemitism.

    • Martin Sterenbuch

      I am a Columbia College alumnus (B.A. 1960) and wholeheartedly agree.

  • Fsmid

    Aledander Mitscherlich wrote “there comes a time that the Germans will blame the Jews for Auschwitz”…by the way Helmuth Schmidt, the late German chancel er and great statesmen, (who was a officer during World war 2, and stated that hadn’t seen atrocities against the jews during his fighting at the eastern front and came to awareness of the antisemitism and war crimes during the Freissler processes in 1944, which is very remarkle) disturbed the fragile 10 year old diplomatic relations with Israel and Begin, with his moral and judging behaviour of the Israeli politics concerning the palastian conflict, and preferance for Arabic business ties , for years and Kohl was later able to restore them, help by the big statesman and president Richard von Weitzsacker..
    Generally the German second and third generation, after the war, are very aware of the Sjoa etc..and feel a need to repair the past….during the opening Of the palementary year it’s custom to say that Germany will protect and garantee the existence of the state Israel, regardless of political actual matters. I find that a very moving/emotional
    but also a bit sore because of the big weapon and Industrial trade with Arabic countries like Saudi Arabia and at the present Iran….

  • Sarah

    Well laid out expose of the stealth antisemitism of German “intellectuals” — Europeans, wiser after the Shoah, prefer genocide-by-proxy and racism one hand removed from themselves, and thus cheer on their ideological heirs such as Dabashi.

  • Rivkah Rothschild, Esq

    Well-written, informative article that reports on facts that are disturbing, to say the least. Before this article I was not aware of the anti-Semitism amongst the academia of Germany and rather thought that it was concentrated in the Eastern German towns and hamlets where higher education was of low priority. This seemed to bolster the notion that the less education the higher the anti-Semitism in a particular locale. Dr. Heni’s article illuminates the fact that anti-Semitism is prevalent amongst academia in Germany and must be looked at, as he does, from the angle of, is there a psychological function that it fulfils? Demonizing the victim and telling the victim that he/she is imagining things are two forms of abuse that perpetrators adopt to exonerate themselves. Here we see both.

  • Franklin Delano Paskutnik

    What a sickening story.I have always believed and now I am sure that Germans have not changed and still hate Jews with a pathological intensity.Many years ago,when I was visited at my business by a manager of Lufthansa,I mentioned to him how distressed I was about the Holocaust.His answer:”Look what Begin is doing to the Palestinians!” No regrets,no explanation.The descendants of the German mass-murderers and their Muslim fellow-travellers will not succeed in their nefarious perversion of history : The “Big Lie” will always be defeated by the “Big Truth”!Dr.Heni – and the Algemeiner – must be commended for bringing this matter to the attention of the world.

  • Peter

    “Germany is a hotbed of academic antisemitism, particularly in the fields of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. Germans are particularly pleased with non-European scholars, such as Dabashi, who will defame Israel and downplay the crimes of the Holocaust.” Do you really believe that? Give it a break my friend.

  • Bill

    The unresolved shame of European Hollocoust same is becoming the cancer of modern anti-semitism. It is a way to diminish third shame by deflecting to the victim.

  • Shit article


    • Steve Meltz

      when I read about Holocaust deniers it makes me realize that intentional denial of facts and the stupidity of those who spread those lies knows no bounds and never will…
      The Holocaust was the single most devastating act man has ever perpetrated against man and it’s no surprise that those who were responsible for it would like to claim it didn’t happen, but it did!
      The German people allowed the Holocaust to happen and the Nazis and the Palestinians have had an “unholy” alliance dating back to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the 30s and to his star pupil Yasir Arafat who lined his pockets with Millions and possibly Billions of dollars intended to help his people while his people were taught in the madrassas that the Jew, America & The West are the Devil and the source of ALL OF THEIR PROBLEMS. Arafat employed the same anti-Semitic lies as Hitler all the while amassing a private fortune valued in the Hundreds of Millions of dollars…
      The Neo-Nazis, Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and this idiot Professors from Columbia University should have no right whatsoever to spew their messages of hate and Holocaust denial anywhere in the world.
      They forfeit that right the minute they cross the line and support or defend those who murder for “ideological” reasons…
      I believe that when you MURDER another human being (or defend known killers by denying their actions) on ideological grounds, you forfeit your rights as they have violated the rights of others by KILLING them…

      No matter how many times you repeat a lie… It will never become truth, but sadly, there will always be an audience for it…

    • dante

      the response of a hateful moron who, at least, named himself appropriately.