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Columbia University Professor Blames Israel for ‘Every Dirty, Treacherous Act Happening in the World,’ Claims Iran Nuke Deal Opposed by ‘Fifth Column Zionists’

avatar by Shiri Moshe

The statue Alma Mater in front of Low Memorial Library on the campus of Columbia University. Photo: Nowhereman86 via Wikimedia Commons.

A professor at Columbia University in New York accused Israel on Tuesday of being behind every calamity in the world, and asserted that Zionists who oppose the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran are disloyal to the United States.

Hamid Dabashi, a professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia, wrote on Facebook, “Every dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world just wait for a few days and the ugly name of ‘Israel’ will pup [sic] up as a key actor in the atrocities.”

His post linked to a New York Times article claiming that unidentified critics of the nuclear agreement with Iran hired Black Cube, a private firm founded by former Israeli military intelligence analysts, to gather information on a top aide to President Barack Obama and his family.

The professor also denounced “opponents of the Iran Nuclear deal” as “diehard Fifth Column Zionists working against the best interests of Americans and for the best interests of Israelis.”

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Accusations of dual loyalty against “Zionists” are frequently employed by neo-Nazis, among them former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke, who in 2012 said that “Israel and the Zionist fifth column in government, big media and finance” support a war with Iran.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which was endorsed by the body’s 31 member countries in 2016, includes “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League, a leading Jewish civil rights group, charging Israel with involvement in every catastrophe in the world may also be antisemitic.

Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the ADL, explained in 2017 that assertions where “often all the problems of the [Middle East] and even the world are attributed to the Jewish state … are case studies of anti-Semitism, even if the perpetrators attempt to wrap their intolerance in the guise of fighting systemic racism or seeking social justice.”

Dabashi’s comments were denounced as “anti-Semitic” by the Students Supporting Israel (SSI) club at Columbia.

“It is unfortunate that the university does not join us in our condemnation,” SSI told The Algemeiner. “The university’s lack of action signals to all professors like Professor Dabashi that the Jewish and Zionist students on Columbia’s campus are an easy target.”

Aryeh, another pro-Israel campus group, similarly denounced the professor’s “despicable statements,” calling his accusation that Israel is responsible for every ill in the world “an anti-semitic trope that attacks Jewish, Israeli, and Zionist students here at Columbia.”

“Many Zionist students at Columbia have become desensitized to hearing anti-Israel rhetoric in our classrooms and on our University-wide social media,” Aryeh President Adele Stolovitz told The Algemeiner. “But the prevalence of these bigoted views in our forums does not negate the vileness of Dabashi’s statement.”

“It is a shame that Professor Dabashi can use his well-established position at Columbia University to propagate hate speech targeted at Zionists — some of whom are his own students,” she said.

Rabbi Yonah Blum, the co-director of Chabad at Columbia University, likewise warned that Dabashi’s comments were part of “a disturbing reality.”

“My wife Keren and I, in recent years, have seen a dramatic uptick in the amount of students who are seeking shelter from the intimidation they are feeling on campus due to increasing anti-Israel and anti-Jewish comments and incidents in the classrooms and on campus,” he told The Algemeiner.

“To the university’s credit, Columbia has recently instituted some policies in order to make all students feel safe to freely express their beliefs, opinions and identities,” Blum observed. “It seems apparent, though, as long as tenured faculty will continue to be afforded a platform to spread malevolent age-old anti-semitism, students will need to find the inner strength to overcome these challenges.”

Dabashi and representatives for Columbia did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

The professor, an advisory board member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, has frequently made incendiary comments about Israelis and Zionism. In an April op-ed published in Al Jazeera, he wrote that “if anyone dares to utter a word against [Zionist] war crimes and crimes against humanity they and their Zionist fifth columns in the US and Europe start screaming ‘anti-Semitism’ at them.”

In a December article in the same outlet, Dabashi called Israel “a racist apartheid European colonial garrison state” and claimed that Zionists have an “ideologically sick mind.”

Similar themes have appeared in Dabashi’s writings for years. In a 2004 article published in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, the professor posited that the souls of “Israelis” are “sullied, vacated, exiled,” and alleged that “half a century of systematic maiming and murdering of another people has left its deep marks on the faces of these people, the way they talk, the way they walk, the way they handle objects, the way they greet each other, the way they look at the world.”

He further argued that Israel has “a vulgarity of character that is bone-deep and structural to the skeletal vertebrae of its culture.”

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger sought to distance himself from Dabashi’s comments at the time, telling New York magazine, “They’re outrageous things to say, in my view.”

“But what a faculty member says in the course of public debate, we will not take into account within the university,” Bollinger added. “That’s a dangerous slope.”

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