Leave it to the Middle East studies establishment to defend the vilest forms of conspiratorial anti-Semitic rhetoric, provided it’s in service of demonizing Israel. Jasbir Puar, the Rutgers University women’s and gender studies professor and Israel-boycott advocate who, in a controversial February 3 lecture at Vassar College, charged the IDF with the organ harvesting, deliberate maiming, and stunting of “Palestinian bodies,” can certainly count on support from its ranks.
Notorious Israel-bashers such as Rashid Khalidi (Columbia University), Joel Beinin (Stanford University), and Steven Salaita (American University of Beirut) are among the signatories to an open letter to Vassar College President Catharine Bond Hill defending Puar against an alleged campaign of “vilification and hatred” following her inflammatory lecture. Unlike the vast majority of academic jargon-filled apologias for bigotry that populate the lecture circuit, Puar’s talk was widely covered and rightly condemned by a disgusted public. In evoking “hate mail and other threats” against Puar, the authors allude to the specter of death threats — whether real or imagined — a time-honored tradition among academics unaccustomed to the twin horrors of criticism and accountability.