Dear Dr. Anthony Monaco
President, Tufts University
As a former Tufts medical student, full-time academic, retired Professor of Radiology (Tufts, BU) — and a student of Middle East history — I am concerned about the academic reputation of Tufts, now that it has decided to offer a course on “Settler-Colonialism.”
I requested permission to audit professor Tom Abowd’s aforementioned class. When he refused, I went to the class anyway, in order to ask him why. He treated me curtly, saying, “I don’t need a reason — now please leave.”
So I went to the bookstore and bought all the available books on his reading list. I found none with any academic value regarding the past or present political, military, economic, or religious aspects of Colonialism. Instead, all the readings dwelt solely on current Israel-Palestinian issues, and only from the Palestinian perspective.
The accusation of “Settler-Colonialism” in Israel is an Orwellian inversion of history, reframed and weaponized as a buzzword to attack the Jewish state. It relies on misinformation to attract campus support by appealing to minority groups through ‘intersectionality’ — and herein lies Tufts’ problem.
Offering this course has three unintended consequences. First, we cheat our students by offering indoctrination rather than education. Second, we extend our Tufts official imprimatur to both this false concept and its proponents. Finally, we risk the college’s academic reputation by doing so.
I do have three recommendations that can help correct this noteworthy mistake, and prevent it from happening in the future:
1. Create a faculty committee to vet new courses for their academic value before offering them to students;
2. Create clear distance between Tufts University and those trading on its name. Hobart College in Geneva, New York, had a somewhat similar situation, where a professor was promoting an antisemitic ideology. To protect its reputation, it compelled the professor to desist from using the college logo or name when advertising or giving his speeches outside of the university; and
3. Insist that all student groups applying for Recognized Student Organization (RSO) status first accept Tufts’ own guidelines for civil engagement — which include free and open dialogue, discussion, and debate. Some student groups — such as Students for Justice in Palestine — have charters that require their members to refuse the above, through platforms calling for “no normalization” or cooperation with Jewish or pro-Israel students.
Last summer, when you asked why I was not moving forward with my gift to the university, I told you that, regrettably, I could not complete my gift because Tufts was funding its SJP chapter as an RSO. I outlined my concerns about the group to you at that time — but I am still waiting for your answer and action.
Stephen G. Gerzof, MD FACR
Prof. of Radiology, (Ret.)
Tufts and BU School of Medicine