New York City
In his attempt to “play fair” Scott Sherman appears to have learned his journalistic ethics from the New York Sun‘s Jacob Gershman [“The Mideast Comes to Columbia,” April 4]. Even the mainstream New York Times showed more journalistic professionalism in its coverage of the Columbia University witchhunt when it refused to engage in the kind of baseless character assassination in which Sherman engages.
Without providing a shred of evidence for his profile, Sherman describes me, among other things, as “dogmatic” and as “a man who traffics in absolutes, a man who often infuriates even those who are sympathetic to his views.” It is unclear how Sherman knows any of this. Has he spoken to all “those who are sympathetic to my views”? Did they all tell him that I often infuriate them? What are the signs of my dogmatism? How can one even begin to respond to such yellow journalism?
But as if this were not enough, Sherman adds that Edward Said “worried about his young friend’s propensity for careless rhetoric–a point that Massad himself acknowledged in his Al-Ahram obituary of Said.”
In fact, I acknowledged no such thing, as neither I nor Edward Said believed that my rhetoric was “careless.” Said was merely concerned about strategy and about my “youthful enthusiasm” (as he termed it) in criticizing certain enemies of the Palestinian struggle, not any alleged carelessness. Sherman’s purpose for such baseless descriptions is for Nation readers to dismiss my political views as akin to Daniel Pipes’s and Martin Kramer’s in their extremism, as he presents me as their mirror image. Sherman concludes: “Massad frequently acts out the [‘devil’] role by unleashing a steady stream of inflammatory anti-Zionist rhetoric: ‘racist Jewish state’ is a locution he constantly employs.”
My characterization of Israel as racist is not some ideological insult but rather a description of a country that has myriad laws that grant Jewish citizens rights and privileges that it denies to non-Jewish citizens. These include the Law of Return (1950), the Law of Absentee Property (1950), the Law of the State’s Property (1951), the Law of Citizenship (1952), the Status Law (1952), the Israel Lands Administration Law (1960), the Construction and Building Law (1951) and myriad others.
This racist character of the country extends to the maintenance of the exclusive Jewish symbolism that Israel deploys, ranging from its Jewish flag and national anthem (which speaks only of Jews) to its ceremonial national days and the practices of institutionalized discrimination against its Arab non-Jewish citizens in every facet of life. I am not sure why Sherman finds this “inflammatory.” Would calling the United States during segregation or South Africa during apartheid racist countries also be considered “inflammatory” anti-American or anti-South African rhetoric?