Pollack is no great admirer of MEALAC, and he clashed with Columbia's Edward Said over the Israel-Palestine conflict, but he has no patience for the view that the university is hostile to Jewish students: "It is a crazy, crazy exaggeration to claim that Jews are under attack at Columbia or that the faculty is anti-Semitic.
Nevertheless, Columbia Unbecoming does lodge a specific set of allegations against MEALAC in general and Saliba, Dabashi and Massad in particular--allegations that have traveled far and wide, including to Israel, where the film has been screened.
In 1999 Massad was given an assistant professorship in MEALAC, and he is up for tenure in two years.
Nader Uthman, a MEALAC and Center for Comparative Literature & Society doctoral student who was Massad's teaching assistant that semester, says, "In Massad's class, the most prolific contributors to class discussion were students who disagreed with him, and many did not hesitate to interrupt him to make their point.
Shanker herself insists that MEALAC is "a really wonderful department, for the most part.
Rabbi Sheer, who ran Columbia's Kraft Center, gave his blessing: Sheer was already a fierce critic of MEALAC, having collided, over the previous two years, with both Dabashi and Saliba.