Student group decries Columbia prof's 'disturbing' Israel-ISIS comparison

A pro-Israel student group at Columbia University has called on the university's leadership to denounce a Facebook post by an Iranian studies and comparative literature professor in which he compared the Jewish state to the Islamic State (ISIS).

The since-deleted post by Hamid Dabashi, published March 30, asked: "What's the difference between ISIS and ISRAEL? ... ISIS murderous thugs conquered parts of Syria and declared a 'caliphate,' no decent human being on planet earth recognized their armed robbery or their 'caliphate' – their ISRAELI  counterparts meanwhile conquered parts of Syria and declared it part of their Zionist settler colony – no decent human being on planet earth recognizes their armed robbery ..."

Dabashi then answered his own question: "ISIS does not have a platoon of clean shaven and well coiffured [sic] columnists at the New York Times propagating the cause of the terrorist outfit as the Zionists columnists do on a regular basis.

"All of Syria belong to all Syrian people," Dabashi concluded, " not an inch it either to ISIS or to ISRAEL".

"While we as a member of the Columbia community strongly believe in academic freedom and have the utmost respect for all educators, this kind of utterly despicable and repugnant statement is not to be expected from a tenured faculty holder in an Ivy League institution," the university chapter of Students Supporting Israel said in a statement Thursday that included a screenshot of Dabashi's post. "This is completely unacceptable and must be renounced."

Dabashi has a history of inflammatory comments about Israel and the Jewish people. Last May, after President Trump announced the U.S. was pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, Dabashi posted a tweet blaming Israel for "every dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world."

The professor also attacked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in another now-deleted Facebook post as "this ridiculous man, this notorious, corrupt, criminally insane creature, this laughing stock of every decent civilized human being on planet earth, this pathetic pathological liar, this vulgar vicious charlatan,” he wrote, “this settler colonialist racist thug, this war criminal, this leading perpetrator of crimes against humanity, this nightmare who needs to be put in a [straitjacket] and chained to a cage in an asylum house or a zoo ..."

Last month, Dabashi wrote in an opinion piece for Al Jazeera that "Jews are the victims, Zionists the beneficiaries of anti-Semitism. ... The conflation of Zionism and Judaism ... is a false flag to confuse the issue and prevent the active solidarity of these two main victims of their racism."

In response, Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), wrote that Dabashi "employs all the sleights of hands by those on the political left who engage in anti-Semitic tropes against Jews. ...

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"He tries to separate out Zionism from Judaism, when Zionism is the fulfillment of the 2000-year aspiration of the Jewish people to return to the Holy Land," wrote Greenblatt. " He claims to be opposed to anti-Semitism, but only acknowledges anti-Semitism from the right. And he demonizes Israel under the guise of legitimate criticism of the Jewish state. ... Those who truly care about combatting anti-Semitism need to reject anti-Semitism in whatever form it surfaces. Using Israel as a cover for such anti-Semitism won't do the trick and should be condemned by all those who want to combat the surge of hate in today’s world."

Emails to Dabashi and Columbia President Lee Bollinger requesting comment were not immediately answered.