Introduction: Controversy at Columbia University
Columbia University is currently embroiled in a controversy as students and individuals have called for the removal of a tenured professor, Joseph Massad, due to his praise of Hamas’ recent brutal assault on Israel.
Massad’s comments have sparked outrage and led to the creation of a petition demanding his removal.
Professor’s Alarming Statements
Joseph Massad, a history and politics lecturer, made the controversial remarks in an article published on the Electronic Intifada website, just one day after a tragic event in which hundreds of Jewish individuals lost their lives in areas near Gaza.
In the article, Massad referred to Israel as ‘cruel colonizers’ and lauded Hamas’ actions as ‘astonishing,’ ‘astounding,’ ‘awesome,’ and ‘incredible.’
He specifically noted the Palestinian resistance fighters’ takeover of Israeli checkpoints, describing it as a significant achievement.
Outcry and Petition for Removal
In response to Massad’s statements, a petition on Change.org was swiftly created by Maya Platek, a junior at Columbia University.
The petition accuses Massad of showing support for a ‘recognized terrorist organization’ and calls for his removal. At the time of writing, over 30,000 people have signed this petition.
Background on Massad and Prior Controversies
Joseph Massad, of Jordanian and Palestinian descent, has been a faculty member at Columbia since 1999.
Notably, his tenureship faced protests in 2009 from Columbia’s pro-Israel group LionPAC. Since the commencement of Hamas attacks, Columbia University has become a focal point of tensions and controversies related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Related Incidents and Statements
In recent days, a Brooklyn teenager was arrested for allegedly striking an Israeli Columbia University student with a stick, though it is not being investigated as a hate crime.
Additionally, the Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine issued a public statement characterizing Hamas’ actions as a ‘counter-offensive’ against oppressors and placing responsibility on the Israeli government and Western governments.
Calls for Change and Divestment
The statement from the Students for Justice in Palestine reiterated their demand for Columbia University to divest from Israel.
They also expressed frustration with the institution’s actions, asserting that it normalizes Israeli apartheid and subjugation of Palestinians.
This incident is not the first time that Columbia’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has come under scrutiny, as the university’s plans to build a campus in Tel Aviv faced opposition from both staff and students in the past.
The coalition of students called upon the administration to acknowledge Palestinian existence and humanity, aligning its actions with its values.