OpinionSchools & Higher Education

Columbia University hires a Hamas supporter

Unfortunately, the appointment of Mohamed Abdou as a visiting professor comes as no surprise.

The Columbia University Library. Source: Pixabay
The Columbia University Library. Source: Pixabay
Marc B. Shapiro
Marc B. Shapiro is the Weinberg Chair of Judaic Studies at the University of Scranton.

Columbia University president Minouche Shafik was among the university presidents recently invited to testify before Congress about antisemitism on their campuses. Conveniently for her, she was committed to another event and thus avoided what turned into a disaster for the witnesses, costing two of them their jobs.

Had Shafik been in attendance, she too would have been asked the same uncomfortable questions and, considering the widespread antisemitism that has been allowed to fester at Columbia since Oct. 7—now confirmed by Columbia’s own Task Force on Antisemitism—it’s difficult to see how her answers would have been any different from those of her hapless colleagues.

Shafik must have breathed a sigh of relief when she saw what became of her colleagues after their disastrous testimony. She likely reflected on how she easily could have been in the same sinking boat. One would think she would have used this as an opportunity to learn an important lesson and set Columbia on the right path.

It seems that one would be wrong, given that, this semester, Columbia’s Middle East Institute chose to employ Mohamed Abdou as a visiting professor.

Abdou has openly stated that he supports Hamas, the genocidal terror organization that has engaged in mass murder and plans to continue doing so. For good measure, he has also stated that he supports Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. Yet this was not a bar to his appointment at Columbia.

This is striking, because we live at a time when it is inconceivable that anyone who is known to be transphobic or racist would ever be offered an appointment at Columbia. Yet it appears that the university does not consider it overly problematic to support the murder of Jews.

Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising. As we have seen so often over the past few months, when it comes to hatred of minority groups, progressives’ one acceptable exception is the Jews.

Abdou’s appointment would be noteworthy at any time, but coming so soon after the college presidents’ horrendous testimony and as antisemitism, often disguised as anti-Zionism, continues to explode on college campuses, it is mind-boggling in its tone-deafness.

One might wonder why there has been no discussion of his appointment in the mainstream press. It was left to Jessica Costescu of the Free Beacon to raise the issue. Sadly, there is no need to wonder. We have seen again and again how the mainstream press ignores such stories.

Those who should know better usually defend the insanity that can lead to the appointment of racists like Abdou by citing the value of academic freedom. We saw this done in regard to another pro-terrorist Columbia professor, Joseph Massad, who on Oct. 8, 2023 horrifyingly said that he found Hamas’s massacre “awesome” and “stunning.” Tenure or not, it is hard to see how academic freedom can be used as an excuse for celebrating mass murder.

Whether a faculty member’s public support for genocidal terrorists should be viewed as a firing offense or not is a discussion worth having, because it smashes headlong into another professed value of almost all universities: providing a “safe space” for all students. Jewish students and certainly Israeli students are unlikely to feel safe in classes led by Abdou or Massad, since if those students were to be murdered by Hamas “decolonizers,” we have seen how enthusiastically Abdou and Massad would defend the murderers.

Try to imagine a professor who is known to use the n-word and has expressed support for the Ku Klux Klan. Would a university brush his racist attitudes aside in the name of academic freedom? Or would it insist that because of them, that professor’s classroom is no longer a safe space for students?

Even if we decide to be free speech absolutists regarding currently employed professors, Abdou’s comments were made before he began to teach at Columbia. There was no compelling reason to welcome him on campus after his fealty to Hamas was made public.

It is disgraceful enough that over a hundred Columbia professors issued a public statement that referred to the Oct. 7 massacre as a “military action,” but now Columbia has decided to top this by starting the spring semester with an open Hamas supporter who will teach impressionable minds that decolonization is an “inherently violent” but also “spiritual act.”

While many will be incredulous that Columbia could once again betray its history and mission, anyone who has been paying attention knows it is terribly comprehensible. Columbia and so many other elite universities have long since given notice that they have lost their way.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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