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From Al Jazeera to Columbia University: Joseph Massad’s obsession with Israel

 

IMPORTANT UPDATE:
 
Al Jazeera has deleted Massad’s op-ed “The Last of the Semites” from its website.
 
According to a furious post by Ali Abunimah, “Massad told The Electronic Intifada that he had ‘received confirmation’ from his editor at Al Jazeera English that ‘management pulled the article.’”
 
 
UPDATE:
 
In yet another twist, Al Jazeera decided to re-publish Massad’s piece on May 21, together with a short note from the editor who claimed that Al Jazeera had neither succumbed to any pressures when it pulled the piece nor when it decided to re-publish it:
 
“Al Jazeera does not submit to pressure regardless of circumstance, and our history is full of examples where we were faced with extremely tough choices but never gave in. This is the secret to our success.”
 
Massad’s fans had been in no doubt about who was to blame for Al Jazeera’s decision to remove his column. As the “Angry Arab,” Massad’s colleague As’ad AbuKhalil put it, the decision was “due to pressures from Zionist hoodlums.” And there were momentous implications: “The Qatari ruling dynasty is now at the feet of Zionists.”
 
With the re-publication of Massad’s op-ed, this dreadful scenario has obviously been averted...

 

 
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Columbia University professor Joseph Massad has been at it for years, but for some reason, his latest op-ed for Al Jazeera finally made many people sit up and pay attention to Massad’s relentless efforts to taint Israel and Zionism with preposterous Nazi-comparisons and claims of Nazi-collaboration.

 

Popular columnist Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted sarcastically: “Congratulations, al Jazeera: You've just posted one of the most anti-Jewish screeds in recent memory.”
 
 
While a lot of people agreed with Goldberg and either retweeted him or posted similar tweets, it is debatable if Massad’s latest Al Jazeera column was really so much worse than the many others that reflect his obsession with Israel. As I have documented only recently, Massad’s writings on Israel can easily be confused with material from the neo-Nazi “White Pride World Wide” hate site Stormfront – and at least in one case, he actually did write a passage that closely resembles a Stormfront post that is taken from David Duke’s notorious “minor league Mein Kampf.”
 
It was therefore arguably long overdue that people finally noticed that Massad was using his Al Jazeera columns to spread his vicious views on Israel and Zionism. In his latest lengthy and rather incoherent screed, Massad tries once again to resurrect the “Zionism is racism”-equation with the added twist of insisting that Zionism is really Nazi-like racism. This brings Massad to the utterly ridiculous conclusion that
 
“Israel and the Western powers want to elevate anti-Semitism to an international principle around which they seek to establish full consensus. They insist that for there to be peace in the Middle East, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims must become, like the West, anti-Semites by espousing Zionism and recognising Israel’s anti-Semitic claims [i.e. Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state].”
 
Furthermore, according to Massad,
 
“the Palestinian people and the few surviving anti-Zionist Jews […] are […] the heirs of the pre-WWII Jewish and Palestinian struggles against anti-Semitism and its Zionist colonial manifestation. It is their resistance that stands in the way of a complete victory for European anti-Semitism in the Middle East and the world at large.”
 
It is almost amusing that Massad insists that “the Palestinian Authority and its cronies” are not part of this oh-so-noble tradition of opposing the kind of antisemitic Zionism that is the product of his fevered imagination. But of course, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Columbia University professor Joseph Massad clearly share a fondness for the “historical narishkayt” that there was some sort of cozy “relationship between Zionism and Nazism before World War II.”
 
Indeed, Massad – who works at Columbia University as an expert on “modern Arab politics and intellectual history” – faithfully reflects the antisemitic demonization of Israel that is so commonplace in the Arab media and that keeps poisoning Arab politics.
 
In reaction to Massad’s latest screed, many on Twitter dismissed his vicious views as proof of his ignorance, and a widely recommended post by Liam Hoare opened with the verdict that “Joseph Massad’s op-ed, ‘The Last of the Semites’, demonstrates above all that the Columbia professor knows very little about not a lot.”
 
But while Hoare does a good job demonstrating that Massad’s views amount to “a total perversion of Jewish history and what Herzl actually thought and wrote,” it’s safe to assume that Professor Massad thinks of himself as a foremost expert on Zionism and Israel. Indeed, his Al Jazeera columns on these subjects usually include a reference to his book on “The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians,” and it turns out that this spring semester, Massad is also teaching a course that covers some of the very subjects he knows so “very little about.”
 
 
Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Massad’s students are likely to learn how to present Zionism as “a total perversion of Jewish history and what Herzl actually thought and wrote.”
 
Whether the resulting ideas are articulated in a Columbia University classroom or on Al Jazeera or Stormfront makes little difference as far as their substance is concerned. I tried to illustrate this point in my recent post on Massad with some quotes (I have added here two more) that are either from Massad or from Stormfront – see if you can tell them apart [answers at the end of this post]:
 
1) “Nazism was a boon to Zionism throughout the 1930s.”
 
2) “For all intents and purposes, the National Socialist government was the best thing to happen to Zionism in its history.”
 
3) “In Germany, the average Jews were victims of the Zionist elite who worked hand in hand with the Nazis.”
 
4) “Hitler could have just confiscated all the Jewish wealth. Instead he used the ‘Haavara Program’ to help establish the State of Israel.”
 
5) “Between 1933 and 1939, 60 percent of all capital invested in Jewish Palestine came from German Jewish money through the Transfer Agreement.”
 
6) “In fact, contra all other German Jews (and everyone else inside and outside Germany) who recognised Nazism as the Jews’ bitterest enemy, Zionism saw an opportunity to strengthen its colonisation of Palestine.”
 
7) “Zionists welcomed the Nazis’ anti-Semitic policies. Like the Nazis, they believed in race-based national character and destiny. Like the Nazis, they believed Jews had no future in Germany."
 
8) “the Zionist Federation of Germany […] supported the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, as they agreed with the Nazis that Jews and Aryans were separate and separable races. This was not a tactical support but one based on ideological similitude."
 
9) “Zionism […] developed the idea of the first racially separatist planned community for the exclusive use of Ashkenazi Jews, namely the Kibbutz.”
 
10) “The Zionists were afraid that the ‘Jewish race’ was disappearing through assimilation.”
 
Needless to say, Massad and his admirers who enthusiastically endorsed his recent column – among them Max Blumenthal of Mondoweiss, Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada, and the “Angry Arab” Professor As’ad AbuKhalil  – would all insist, just as Massad claims in his Al Jazeera piece, that their staunch anti-Zionism means quasi by definition that they can’t be antisemitic, even if they propagate the same perverted tropes that are popular on Stormfront.
 
 
Update:
 
I just saw that Massad’s column on “The last of the Semites” is being shared and debated at Stormfront.
 

 

 
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