Failing — Columbia University and its students’ hate speech.

Diario Judío México - To the president of Columbia University Mr. Lee Bollinger
Faculty and Administration;

My name is Adina Cimet, Ph.D from your department of Sociology.  I am originally from Mexico City where I had obtained my Licenciatura from UNAM University, also in Sociology.  I studied in the London School of Economics before arriving to New York.

For my professional work, I have taught and held seminars in many Universities here and abroad; and have published academic work through a variety of Institutions.

Columbia is my Alma Matter (and my husband’s as well), and a very special place for us.

Your joining the list of BDS protesters however, is an aberration of great magnitude. Allowing students that call themselves for ‘Justice in Palestine’ to openly harass Jewish students  taking their arguments out of the confinements of a room into the public space of the University, seems a strange allowance; with no counter-argument from you, acting as if detached —  as authorities and supposedly good thinkers, your stance is egregious.  What about the required consciousness needed  never to side with the forces of destruction and generic hate? You are condoning these students thoughts rather than reject them. This is no kindergarten exercise, and these students are not ‘playing’ adults.  You have abridged your responsibility as educators. Your decision to allow this is appalling.

Perhaps we should not be completely surprised: during the late 30s in Germany, the greatest minds of the academic world, philosophers, doctors, architects, artists, etc. all went the same path.   What a shame that there are no lessons learnt.

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A university is a forum for free speech and thought but it is also a private space where ‘good thought’ must be fostered. So you go for free speech without doing deep analysis, and then, assailing one side only?  Not all skewed thoughts should be welcomed  under the umbrella of ‘freedom  of speech” at a university.   Certainly — as a private domain — the narrative of destruction, hatred, and, most of all, untruth should never be allowed to reign.  Is your quadrant a jungle of sorts?

To support or allow the BDS anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli movement is to surpass analysis of the political complex reality of the Middle East and rather than focus on specific mistakes or policies that need change — on all players involved– it goes for the identification of faults real and invented, on one side only: . That is disastrous. BDS zooms in on academics, artists, intellectuals attempting to punish anyone with ties to or Judaism.  You are game with that political style and content?  Who is next?

Why is there no protest regarding:

a. Gender abuse — women’s issues — in Arab societies and in Muslim structured religion?
b. How do you explain your silence on issues of gay life style — ignoring sexual freedom in Arab societies?
c. How is it that you have not recognized and protested that ‘education-to-hate Israelis and Jews’ as the text books in Palestine do with the youngest of children, is no formula for future peace making?
d. Why have you not protested their Holocaust deniers…?
e. How is it that as an academic institution you have chosen to be silent and absorbed with beaurocratical procedures to please these students rather than scream and protest at the destruction of historical archeological or other treasures of humanity by extremists in their camp?  Why aren’t these so called very politically-conscious students even remotely outraged by the erasure undertaken by their brethren?

 Muslim leaders visited Italy recently and requested that great art be covered up for their comfort– and rather than cover their own eyes in public (a gesture that would just act out what they do intellectually already) — the government obliged, as you are doing, covering your eyes and ears to the narratives of distortion, hatred and political twists.

Not only would I or my husband not ever give a dollar to the University if this is not reversed — but I will make an effort to make it known so that no one that I know feels comfortable doing that. If you are part of the IVY LEAGUE list of selected Universities — in other words, special — you have to remove yourselves from  joining in that ‘other list’ of the 150 abusive universities that look the other way and allow BDS activity perhaps in order to receive petro-dollars from questionable sources.

Sincerely,
Adina Cimet

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Adina Cimet nació en la Ciudad de México, en 1951, en una familia con raíces Ashkenazies. Su padre Ruben Cimet (1923-2008), nacido en Hrubieszow, Polonia, fue un conocido escultor, arquitecto y distinguido profesor de arquitectura en la UNAM. Su madre Shoshana Ralsky Tartak (nacida en Kaunas, Lituania) es sobreviviente del que la confronto de nina, y fue liberada en Bergen Belsen por tropas del ejército Inglés. Empezó su carrera como Maestro de Idish en las escuelas de México, pero siguió su educación formal hasta llegar a ser profesora de Sociología de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, con estudios de Licenciatura, Maestría y Doctorado de la misma institución.  Es autora de varios libros sobre el sistema político mexicano.

Cimet es miembro de los consejos asesores en el Programa de Estudios Judaicos de la Universidad de Drexel en Filadelfia. Ha publicado su trabajo en inglés, español y hebreo, dado conferencias y dirigido seminarios en varios países. Tambien es actualmente docente del Museo Judío de Arte de Nueva York.

Es autora de un proyecto educativo para la cultura Idish, y ex directora del sitio web “Cuando estas calles escucharon Idish”, ambos patrocinados por el Instituto Científico Judío IWO, creado en Vina en 1925, pero con sede en Nueva York desde la guerra. El proyecto, concebido originalmente para la juventud judía, pero más tarde ampliado para ser ofrecido a la juventud de Norteamérica y otros lugares, se centra en la cultura Idish en del Este. El proyecto fue probado e implementado en 18 escuelas piloto, 15 en los EE.UU., dos en y una en la Ciudad de México.

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2 COMENTARIOS

  1. El CENTRO DE ESTUDIOS JUDAICOS (CEJ) considera que es muy importante que se conozca la posición de Adina Cimet, una de las intelectuales judeomexicanas que, en los Estados Unidos y siendo profesora de la Columbia University, se opone a las decisiones del Presidente de la Universidad. Nosotros nos unimos a su posicionamiento.

  2. So glad you have written this. I have been increasingly shocked and worried at this trend among younger students to sort of ignore historical context and create a “current” reality based on a skewed set of beliefs that entitle them to shut down discourse, prevent free speech of those they oppose while claiming that right, and literally direct institution’s policies through their sense of entitlement.

    The issue you raise in particular is a very serious one. Just another legitimized (by the University) branch of antisemitism. Linked closely to the phenomenon of cries of Islamophobia that meet any approach to the current world crisis of terrorism. The “correct thought” currently is that 99.9% of Muslims are not in support of such acts and philosophies and that those who try to have a more pragmatic and critical point of view are Islamophobes.
    Discourse and active policy that would counter threats are shut down. Almost impossible to imagine that a concerted effort by a group of students holding the counter view would be legitimized in the same way. Look at the situation in Belgium, where a hotbed of terror and threat has flourished, and been mishandled to an appalling degree, all in the name of tolerance and neutrality.

    I don’t subscribe to the beliefs of Trump and his ilk, that is the other side of the coin one doesn’t want to flip. However, these “global rights warriors” don’t put their passion and energy into analysis of the human rights violations occurring daily as part of these fundamentalist societies. Abuse of women, sexual abuse of children, murder of homosexuals under a rule that allows no question, no intellectual freedom, no questioning, destruction of modernity, no path but one unforgiving one. Acts of terror daily not only in Europe, but Africa, Asia, here. Not all Muslims support this, but those living in those societies put their heads down and submit. Many escape, many live more freely and peacefully in other places. But for all that leave, more remain. And so it goes on.

    The forces behind it all are complex, world economics, historic global politics, hunger, poverty and a resultant hatred and revolt against the only thing those societies are allowed to oppose – the others. The others- meaning the host countries and societies that have absorbed communities and now generations of people who do not assimilate, who maintain that “others” stance and whose experience of being other sustains opposition and hostility to the societies they live in.

    Certainly the West (Europe, US, etc) has many sins on their hands. Recognition of that cannot lead us to refuse to see what has happened and where we find ourselves. The growth and spread of ISIS and its recruitment and the organized campaign of violence in Europe should alarm the West. Muslims are not our monolithic enemy, but fundamental Islam in repressive societies produces consistent threat. One can see the results.

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