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Controversial Film Roils Columbia

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Article/book #: 9853
Title: Controversial Film Roils Columbia
By: Liel Leibovitz  
Published in: The Jewish Week
Date of issue: Friday, 29 October 2004
Topic(s) addressed: People/entities mentioned in this item:
Commentary (by JB):

Note the subtlety of the bias in this article. Leibovitz talks about "anti-Israel bias", not about criticism of Israel. Thus, although the MEALAC students confirm that there was no intimidation, Leibovitz is suggesting that professors teaching in the programme have a "bias" against Israel, rather than a well-argued series of criticisms of the state.

When news broke last week of the existence of a new film allegedly exposing anti-Israeli bias at Columbia University, the campus was thrown into turmoil yet again over the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.


But in interviews with four of the seven students who appear in the film, and more than two dozen others mostly Israeli or American Jewish students who attended MEALAC classes over the last five years a much different picture emerges than the one seemingly portrayed on screen.

The students most familiar with the MEALAC department, while noting that some professors are highly critical of Israel and its policies, defended the teachers as well within the bounds of academic give-and-take.

Most of the complaints on campus appear to be from pro-Israel activist students not in the MEALAC program, raising questions of where anti-Israel bias which clearly unsettles some students ends and intimidation begins, and who can best assess the situation.

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