NEW YORK (JTA) — A group of alumni of Columbia University are calling for the suspension of a professor over two Facebook posts they say are anti-Semitic.
Hamid Dabashi, a Columbia professor who teaches Iranian studies and comparative literature, wrote two Facebook posts on May 8 harshly criticizing Israel and Zionists. In one, he calls Israel a “key actor” in “every dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world.” He also criticizes “diehard Fifth Column Zionists working against the best interests of Americans.”
In another post about Iran flagged by the alumni group, Dabashi wrote, “These laughing hyenas — the Zionists the Saudis and the US neocons are f**** with the wrong country.”
The alumni group is the Columbia chapter of Alums for Campus Fairness, an affiliate of the Israel advocacy organization StandWithUs. In an open letter sent last week to Columbia President Lee Bollinger and the university board of trustees, the group wrote that Dabashi’s statements reflect “common anti-Semitic canards.”
The letter also said Dabashi’s posts fit the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which says “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” can be considered anti-Semitic.
“Professor Dabashi’s actions threaten the very academic freedom Columbia University cherishes,” the letter says. “It is our hope that Columbia University acts expeditiously to confront the anti-Semitic bigotry of Professor Hamid Dabashi.”
Neither Dabashi nor Bollinger’s office responded to repeated requests for comment.