By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Originally a column in The Jerusalem Post
In 1925 Adolph Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that Jews must always be judged first by their ethnoreligious identity; “when talking French his [the Jews’] thoughts are Jewish and when writing German rhymes he only gives expression to the character of his own race.” In 2012 Columbia University Associate Professor Joseph Massad wrote an op-ed for Al-Jazeera about the television show and CIA thriller Homelandwhere he dissected the ethnic-national actions of the characters; “The African American Estes is divorced and his former wife married an American Jew… the Jewish Berenson is married to an Indian Hindu ‘brown’ woman (perhaps cementing the Indian Hindu-Israeli Jewish right-wing alliance against Arabs and Muslims)… one can safely presume that Israeli Ashkenazi Jews are the accent tutors on the show.”
A worrisome logic connects the 1925 manifesto to the 2012 op-ed.
Underlying the Massadian text is the theory that one’s race determines one’s actions. Thus a marriage is not a marriage, it is an alliance of the Jew and the Hindu. Those who watch the show know that the identity of Estes’ wife is unimportant and few will even be able to figure out where Massad got this information.
But it reminds one of the sentence from an addendum to the anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion: “If our daughters marry Goyim they will be no less useful, for the children of a Jewish mother are [Jewish].” Massad seems to imply that it is important to know which people have married Jews.
Miscegenation, the interfaith or interracial affairs of people, especially concerns Dr. Massad. “On the first season of the show, cross-racial romance seems to have also infected the character of a white rich American woman who fell in love with a ‘brown’ mildmannered Saudi professor.”
Here the word “infected” connotes disease. This fear of racial mixing was shared by Hitler, who noted, “by continually mixing with other races we might lift them from their former lower level of civilization to a higher grade; but we ourselves should descend forever from the heights we had reached.”
Massad’s 2012 manifesto against Homeland might appear on the face of it an innocent critique of an American series which he considers anti-Muslim; “The racialist structure of the show is reflective of American and Israeli fantasies of anti-Muslim American multiculturalism.” But the polemic should concern all of us for it represents a disturbing injection of racist abuse and profiling into the American academy, under the guise of film criticism.
THE DELIBERATE, repetitive and abusive quality of the endless mentioning of the ethnicity of the characters marks this as a unique text. Furthermore, the lack of condemnation of this kind of attack on Jewish citizens of the US by faculty at a prestigious university shows an acceptance for the profiling of Jews in society.
It castigates all Jews as “the Jewish so and so” and marks out those who married Jews as “his wife is a Jew” or “her husband is a Jew and their children are converts.” This is in line with the claim in Mein Kampf that all Jews work in concert; “The international Jew, Kurt Eisner, began to play off Bavaria against Prussia.”
Eisner was a socialist journalist and statesman, but Hitler viewed him first as a Jew, just as today this Columbia University faculty member views those on Homeland through the lens of “the Jewish” and “the Hindu.” Eight of the 10 times the character Saul Berenson, played by Mandy Pitinkin, is mentioned in the Massad text he is referred to by his ethno-religious background, as “the American Jew Saul Berenson… the Jewish Berenson is married… the Jewish Berenson tells… the Jewish Berenson who… declared by the Jewish Berenson… the Jewish Berenson declares… protests to the Jewish Berenson.”
Berenson is stripped of his humanity, his individual agency, and is transmogrified into “the Jew.” This literary device is typical of traditional anti-Semitism, such as Charles Dicken’s portrayal of Fagin “the Jew,” as he is referred to throughout Oliver Twist, and also the infamous Nazi propaganda film Jew Suss (1940).
Here the “Jewish Berenson” replaces traditional anti- Jewish motif characters such as the “Jew Shylock,” “Jew Fagin” or “Jew Suss.”
It is important to understand this missive through the lens of racist anti-Semitic abuse because it is unconscionable that in today’s America, or anywhere in the world, that a university should stand quietly behind such racial profiling.
If Dr. Massad describes each character in Homeland according to their race and religion, it is important to ask what goes on in his classroom. Is a student just a student or is he “Jewish” first, “Hindu” first, “African- American” first? Is his reputation affected, is he perceived as being part of an “Israeli Ashkenazi Jewish agenda” if he is a Jew, or if his sister married a Jew, or his father once worked for a Jew? Does he write exams as “the Jewish student” or simply as a human being? Columbia University’s policy is to not “permit the harassment of any student or applicant on the basis of race, color, sex, gender, pregnancy, religion, creed, marital status, partnership status, age, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, military status, or any other legally protected status.”
But this type of profiling would violate that policy.
Massad ferrets out what he perceives to be the underlying “racialist structure” of almost every person he mentions in his op-ed. Writing of the main character Nick Brody, he noted, “his wife is played by the Brazilian actress Morena Baccarin, who looks suspiciously brown, but nonetheless is presented as white!” Where does Massad get the idea that she is “presented as white”? It could be his assumption that the “all-American nuclear family” is white. However, the show never mentions the word “white” in relation to Baccarin. Brazil, like the US, is a multi-cultural country with numerous ethnic and racial groups, and Baccarin’s father is an Italian. So why is Massad obsessed with her being “suspiciously brown”? The Columbia University academic thinks it is important to talk about people as “suspiciously brown.” What is suspicious? When a Brazilian student attends Columbia and takes a class with Dr. Massad should the student fear that suspicion is cast on him for being “brown,” and that if he doesn’t declare his ethnic allegiance, will he be accused of “presenting himself” as white? The truth is that Massad’s alarming views have been widespread knowledge among those concerned about Columbia University’s faculty. In 2004-2005 the university created an internal committee to examine allegations of anti-Semitism among its faculty in Middle East Studies. Helpfully, Massad’s former adviser, Lisa Anderson, sat on the committee; it was perhaps no surprise the committee found the university and its faculty innocent.
In 2011 an investigation by the federal government’s Office for Civil Rights examined allegations that Prof. Rachel McDermott had “steered” an Orthodox Jewish student away from Massad’s class because Massad might make her feel “uncomfortable.”
Kenneth Marcus of the Louis Brandeis Center for Human Rights wrote that “the bigger issue is not what Prof. McDermott said, though this may have been illegal, but rather whether the advice was accurately based, in which case we really will need to know more about Prof. Massad’s class – and why his colleagues think that his Orthodox Jewish students will be so uncomfortable there that they need to avoid taking his classes and to study different topics entirely.”
THE IMPORTANT question is not just whether students are uncomfortable, but whether dangerous racist ideas, passed off as ethnic critique of media, are informing faculty at a prestigious US university, and why so few are alarmed at this problem.
Massad has not only categorized the world into “Jewish Berensons” and “brown” Brazilians and the “infection” of “cross-racial romance,” but has also castigated homosexuals. In Desiring Arabs (University of Chicago, 2007) Massad accused “white US sexual politics” of trying to create a queer planet.
“The Gay International, which both produces homosexuals, as well as gays and lesbians, where they do not exist, and represses same-sex desires,” he wrote. He claims that “the Gay International is aided by two other phenomena accompanying its infiltration of the international public sphere – namely, the spread of AIDs on an international scale….”
He asserts that this international gay lobby, which we should recall bears a striking resemblance to what Henry Ford and Hitler called the “International Jew,” launched a “most recent campaign [which] has targeted the Palestinian Authority” and which was “inaugurated” by “openly gay anti-Palestinian Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank… [a] Jewish American.”
So we see how the Gay International, as Massad terms it, works with American Jewish congressmen and AIDs, to “produce” homosexuals in the Muslim world.
He concludes that in the end the agenda will be defeated, “its missionary achievement, however, will be the creation not of a queer planet, to use Michael Warner’s apt term, but of a straight one.”
Scary stuff? This isn’t emanating from drunks in some trailer park back yard, it is coming from the halls of a prestigious American university. The university is actively collaborating, by its silence, with modern racial propaganda which seeks to divide all Americans into racial categories; bashes gay rights activists as part of a “Gay International” and seems to view them all as part of an Elders of Zion-style conspiracy whose control of Homeland is only part of a larger puzzle.
As Massad writes, “that ‘Homeland’ (broadcast on the Showtime cable channel) is an American adaptation of an Israeli series titled ‘Hatufim’ (Hostages) that airs on Israeli television station Channel 2 will surprise no one… [the show’s character] the American Jew Saul Berenson who is unsurprisingly the CIA’s Middle-East Division Chief.”
No surprise, because the Zionists and the American Jews are insinuated to be working together, evidently using Homeland as the vehicle, “reflective of American and Israeli fantasies of anti-Muslim American multiculturalism.”
Martin Luther King asked us to judge people based on the content of their mind, not the color of their skin. But at Columbia university, judging by the intellectual output of this faculty member, students risk being segregated and the content of their minds subordinated to the color of their skin. Hitlerian rhetoric may be enjoying a renaissance, and the American values of Dr. King being trodden under, all in the name of pseudo-academic racism disguised as anti-American and anti-Israel critical scholarship.